Out of the garage... couple's 271 unknown Picassos worth £50m

A French couple have come forward with 271 previously unknown works by Picasso – a staggering trove worth at least £50m.

Picasso Administration lawyer Jean-Jacques Neuer said the retired French electrician and his wife from the Riviera showed many of the works to Picasso's son Claude and other estate administrators in September. Mr Neuer said the administrators believe the works are authentic.

It is unclear how the man – who worked for Picasso in the 1970s – came by the pictures.

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The estate administrators have taken legal action for alleged illegal receipt of the works. The couple kept the works in their garage for years.

The cache, dating from the artist's most creative period from 1900 to 1932, includes lithographs, portraits, watercolours, and sketches – plus nine Cubist collages said to be worth 30m.

Police investigators are looking into how the couple came by the pictures. They said that they were given the works by Picasso and his wife, Jacqueline.

Claude Picasso told French newspaper Liberation that his father was known for his generosity – but that he always dedicated, dated and signed his gifts, as he knew that some recipients might try to sell the works one day.

"To give away such a large quantity, that's unheard-of. It doesn't hold water," he said. "This was part of his life."

To some, the emergence of the works by the 20th century's most renowned artist is akin to opening a time capsule, or a discovery on par with the recent publication of Mark Twain's 100-year-dormant autobiography.

Picasso produced more than 20,000 works during his long career. Hundreds have been listed as missing.