As news broke that a Picasso painting has broken the record for the world’s most expensive painting, the famous Spanish painter’s work was in the papers again, but for less celebratory reasons.
The Telegraph reports that French prosecutors are investigating a Parisian art dealer after Picasso’s stepdaughter filed charges against him for stealing works that he was paid to store and transport.
Catherine Hutin-Blay believes that some of the work she had given to Olivier Thomas has gone missing. The charges relate to the period between March 2012 and March this year.
Hutin-Blay inherited many of Picasso’s work on the death of her mother, Picasso’s second wife Jacqueline. She also owns his former house, Chateau de Vauvenargues near Aix-en-Provence.
Olivier Thomas is a major shareholder in the Luxembourg Freeport, a storage facility that was formerly run by Yves Bouvier, who was recently detained on accusations of fraud and money laundering by Dmitry Rybolovlev. The Russian oligarch claimed that he had overcharged him for works by major blue chip artists. Bouvier denies the charges and has stepped down from his position to fight the case.
The investigation is being led by the French office against trafficking of cultural goods. A source told The Telegraph that ‘the latest arrest may be part of a much wider crackdown on corruption in the art market’.