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Picasso's heirs retract NFT offerings as family row ensues over 'counterfeit' tokens

Marina Picasso, right, granddaughter of artist Pablo Picasso, and her son Florian Picasso pose with a ceramic art-work of Pablo Picasso that is NOT going on sale as NFTs
Marina Picasso, right, granddaughter of artist Pablo Picasso, and her son Florian Picasso pose with a ceramic art-work of Pablo Picasso that is NOT going on sale as NFTs   -   Copyright  Boris Heger/AP
By Euronews  with AP

If you hark back to a couple of days ago, you might remember a story about Picasso's heirs selling a bunch of NFTs. 

It turns out that this is not acutally the case, which is rather confusing.

The Associated Press wrote a story about it after sending one of their reporters to meet Picasso's granddaughter, Marina Picasso, and her son Florian Picasso. 

They showed a ceramic work by the Spanish master to reporter at their Geneva residence that they said would be linked to a “non-fungible asset” being sold online. They and their managers said the pottery bowl itself and an NFT would be sold in March at auction.

More than 1,000 NFTs going on sale starting Friday were in fact linked to Florian’s work, not Pablo's.

But after the story was released into the wild, the picture - much like Picasso's rendering of the human form - distorted somewhat. After Marina and Florian had trumpeted the upcoming sale, lawyers for the family said on Thursday that his heirs have not, in fact, authorised the launch of any such “Picasso NFT.”

Moreover, an family row has been sparked.

As clear as mud

“Maybe we should have been a bit more clear from the beginning,” said Cyril Noterman, the longtime business manager for Florian Picasso, who is a DJ and music producer. Noterman said more than 1,000 NFTs going on sale starting Friday were in fact linked to Florian’s work, not that of his great-grandfather.

Here come the lawyers

Jean-Jacques Neuer, a lawyer for the Picasso Administration –- which manages works held by five Picasso descendants, including Marina, and oversees the use of the Picasso name – contacted the AP on Thursday to say that it has not approved the sale of any “Picasso NFT" and that a NFT by Florian Picasso and his collaborators were “his own creation, independent of any claim vis-a-vis Pablo Picasso and his works.”

“The information given through the media by which the Picasso heirs would join into the market for ‘Pablo Picasso’ NFTs is thus completely wrong,” he wrote. Richard Malka, a lawyer for Diana Widmaier Picasso, another granddaughter of the artist, sent the same statement.

Neuer issued a “warning” that any association with a Picasso work would violate “artistic monopoly,” and any NFT billed as linked to such a work would be a “counterfeit.”

What is the Picasso family's legal structure?

The Picasso Administration manages the holdings of three of Picasso’s children — Maya Widmaier Picasso, Claude Ruiz Picasso, and Paloma Ruiz Picasso — as well as two grandchildren: Marina Ruiz Picasso and Bernard Ruiz Picasso, the children of another son of the artist, the late Paul Picasso.

Together, the five are brought together in a legal structure that in essence confers joint ownership of Picasso intellectual property.

The lawyer said under the current structure, only Claude Ruiz Picasso — the administrator for the family — could authorise an NFT project, and he does not favor one.

One can only imagine the content of the inter-family phone call after the 'news' broke earlier this week.

Oops

“What’s happening is that some members of the family don’t agree with the project, and don’t want the name mentioned,” said Florian Picasso by phone late Thursday, referring to the family name.