Picasso’s granddaughter to sell artist’s villa ‘to turn page on painful history’
Mansion in Cannes was where artist painted some of his most famous works, and met Brigitte Bardot
The granddaughter of Spanish painter Pablo Picasso, Marina Picasso, poses outside her house Pavillon de Flore in Cannes. As a child, Marina often found the gates closed at the Pavillon de Flore, which used to be called La Californie. Photograph: Jean Christophe Magnenet/AFP/Getty Images
Picasso painted one of his most famous works, The Bay of Cannes, while living at La Californie in Cannes. Photograph: Ralph Gatti/AFP/Getty Images
Less than a week after a painting by Pablo Picasso sold for a world record price at auction, his granddaughter has announced she is planning to sell the artist’s former home in Cannes in an effort to rid herself of painful childhood memories of the artist, and raise funds for her charitable work.
The 1,200 square-metre villa, built in 1920 in wooded parkland overlooking the Mediterranean in the south of France, was home to Picasso and his second wife, Jacqeline Roque, from 1955 to 1961.
He painted one of his most famous works, The Bay of Cannes, while living here. His studio in the villa was also location for a high-profile photoshoot of a meeting between the Spanish artist and a 21-year-old Brigitte Bardot, during the Cannes Film Festival in 1956.
Marina Picasso, who is now 64, said selling the villa was a “way to turn the page on a painful history”.
“This is not a house where I have many good memories,” she told the French newspaper Nice-Matin.
“I saw very little of my grandfather there. Looking back, I understand that he may have been captivated by painting and nothing else was more important to him. Except when you’re a child, you don’t experience it like that.”
Her father was Picasso’s son by his first wife, Olga Khokhlova, a Russian-Ukrainian ballerina.
In her memoir Picasso: My Grandfather, published in 2001, Ms Picasso recalled lengthy waits outside the gates of the mansion with her brother Pablito to get in to see her grandfather, who treated them with indifference. Pablito took his own life after Roque allegedly barred him from Picasso’s funeral.
Ms Picasso inherited the villa after Picasso died in 1973, along with hundreds of paintings and drawings, thousands of engravings, and about four hundred ceramics.
She renovated the property in 1987 and renamed it Pavillon de Flore, though it is still known by its original name, La Californie.
She told Nice-Matin that although the property wasn’t for sale yet, she had already received an offer of €150 million.
“It is not easy to leave this house. On the other hand, it is reasonable to do so,” she said, adding that the proceeds would go towards charities working with young people and the elderly in France.
She said she has no qualms about selling the villa, but has made peace with the memory of her grandfather.
“I’m not critical of my grandfather, I do not blame him, I mourned.”
Ms Picasso also plans to sell 126 ceramic works by her grandfather worth an estimated €6.2 million through Sotheby’s in London in June.
‘Les Femmes D’Alger (Version “O”’)’ - a 1955 painting by the Spanish artist - sold for $179.4 million (€159.86 million) at Christie’s in New York last week, a new world record price for any work of art sold at auction.
Ms Picasso said the record price “proves that the rating remains” for her grandfather’s work.
“This is only a work of art. I cannot help thinking of all that could be done with this money to help others,” she said.
Earlier this year, Ms Picasso announced she would be selling off many of the artworks she had inherited privately, in order to raise funds for her humanitarian projects. She finances a children’s hospital and orphanage in Vietnam, and programmes for troubled teenagers and the elderly in Switzerland.