The Perplexity of Picasso’s Estate Without a Will

It has been over 50 years since Pablo Picasso died, leaving no Will to direct who should inherit from and manage his vast estate. To this day, almost 5 decades later, the management of the estate is a highly complex operation and has become the sole work of some of his children and grandchildren.

When he died in 1973 Picasso left behind seven potential beneficiaries, including four children with three different partners, and an enormous estate that included 1,885 paintings, 1,228 sculptures, 7,089 drawings, 30,000 prints, 150 sketchbooks, 3,222 ceramic works, multiple properties in various countries, $4.5 million in cash and $1.3 million in gold.

It took over six years of complex negotiations for the estate to be divided, with the settlement costing $30 million. According to a 2016 Vanity Fair article, “Dividing the assets required legal manoeuvres by more than 50 people, including attorneys, appraisers, cataloguers, officials of several government agencies, and the President of France, Valéry Giscard d’Estaing, who agreed to accept works of art in lieu of estate taxes.” Many of these works can now be viewed in the Picasso Museum in Paris.

Despite all this work, the management of the estate was far from over.

Disagreements about whether artworks were originals or forgeries, or who could use the Picasso name or image, created even further strife between the beneficiaries. After decades of disagreements, Picasso’s son Claude founded The Picasso Administration, an organisation created solely to manage the interests of the beneficiaries, including issues around licensing, merchandise, and forgeries. The administration has representatives in 20 countries and is kept extremely busy protecting the image and integrity of Picasso’s work; no small feat for the administrators of ‘the most reproduced, most widely exhibited, most faked, most stolen, and most pirated artist in the world’.

If only Mr Picasso had left behind a Will, outlining how his assets should be divided and managed, and how his own image should be handled. The story of Picasso’s estate is an example to us all of why it is so important to have a valid Will.

Expert Will Solicitors

You do not need to be the heir of a world-famous artist to experience the difficulty and chaos caused when someone dies without a Will. As expert Wills & Probate solicitors, we work diligently to help our clients deal with all sizes of estates, including those where the deceased did not leave a Will. Our day-to-day work involves helping our clients navigate the tricky waters of probate.

If you need our help with the estate of someone who has passed away, or indeed need to create your own Will, we are on hand to help. You can speak to us today by telephone on 01273 604 123, email us at or fill in our enquiry form.


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