Electricians Can Make Good Money

So what do you believe? Pablo Picasso was both hugely prolific and famously generous with his work, but was he enough of a free spirit to give hundreds of his early works — an invaluable collection — to his electrician?

That question lies at the heart of a court case over the origin of 271 Picasso works — a treasure trove of original sketches, paintings and collages that was unknown to the art world a few months ago and unveiled for the public on Monday.

Experts have yet to appraise the full collection, which has been placed under lock and key after a judicial appeal by Picasso’s heirs. But there is little dispute so far over its authenticity. The works, many of which belong to the artist’s Blue and Cubist periods, could fetch more than 60 million euros ($79 million) at auction.

More mysterious is how such an extensive collection could have wound up in the hands of a retired electrician in the south of France who once worked for the Picasso family, or why he chose to hold onto it for so many decades.

“We have questions, legitimate questions about where the paintings came from,” Claudia Andrieu, legal counsel for the Picasso Foundation, told Reuters Television. “We are discovering new pieces, completely unknown pieces that had never been printed in any book.”

The mystery began when Claude Picasso — son of the artist and head of the foundation named after him — received a letter from a man who said he owned original Picasso pieces and wanted to have them verified for authenticity.

Picasso convinced the man to bring the collection to Paris, saying he would be unable to verify it from photographs. The man arrived by car with the paintings in a suitcase and laid them out on a table.

“I felt a great surprise, naturally, lots of emotion at the discovery of pieces with which we were not familiar. But also a deep disturbance,” he told French daily Liberation. “Many of these pieces were not dated, which means they never should have left the studio.”

HEIRS UNCONVINCED

The man in question was Pierre Le Guennec, an electrician in his seventies who worked on Picasso’s property in the south of France during the 1970s. He told Reuters Television that Picasso’s wife gave him the artworks.

“It’s Madame (Picasso) who gave them. But if Madame gave them, Monsieur was aware of it. She wasn’t going to do it just like that, was she?” he said, speaking through a gate in front of his property. “What did you want me to do with them? … They stayed in a box with other boxes that I have, from my job.”

Yet Picasso’s heirs were not convinced.

While the artist was known to dash out sketches on napkins at restaurants and make spontaneous gifts to friends, he would not have separated with such a large store of work, his son told Liberation. “It doesn’t hold up, frankly,” Picasso said.

Andrieu of the Picasso Foundation said that Le Guennec had changed his story many times, first telling them he had received the paintings from Picasso himself, then Picasso’s wife, and alternately in a box or a trash can.

Questioned by the police, he said the paintings were given to him by Picasso’s wife, who died in 1986. Le Guennec denied stealing the paintings and told RTL radio he decided to ask about their value as a possible inheritance for his children.  Probably stolen IMO.

Specialty Coffins for Gay Men?

The unconventional coffin, which costs 1,650 euros ($2,300), has aroused fascination among customers, said Brandl: “People are really interested because it’s so unique. Reactions have been very positive so far.”

Brandl, 32, and his 34-year-old business partner Michael Koenigsfeld, said they had branched out into the gay market in order to satisfy the increasing number of special requests they received.

“Even though the Lord Mayor of Berlin, the vice-chancellor and many others openly admit to being homosexual nowadays, marginal groups still face prejudices and bureaucratic hurdles,” the pair said in a statement.

They said they provided an individual and different service which offered “a warm and fantastical departure for same-sex couples.”

The gay couple also sell coffins and urns in rainbow colors — the international symbol of the gay and lesbian movement — and offer burials around a tree reserved exclusively for homosexuals.

Given estimates which suggest that around one in ten of Cologne’s population is homosexual, Brandl and Koenigsfeld are well placed to serve the gay community.

The pair also cater for the heterosexual market in an unconventional way, giving customers the opportunity to get involved in designing coffins for their loved ones.

“You can choose different colors and designs,” Brandl said. “You could go for Cologne’s skyline or lots of women on your coffin. A grandmother might like images of her grandchildren on hers — there are loads of possibilities.”

Guy Wants a Boob Refund

A German woman who got her breast implants with a loan from her then boyfriend now fears her assets could be re-possessed after she failed to fully reimburse him, the 20-year-old woman told Bild newspaper.

Her ex-boyfriend is demanding that she return the 4,379 euros ($5,865) he gave her to pay for her breast enlargement surgery in 2009 or he’ll call the police and get the repossessors involved, Bild reported on Wednesday.

“It’s true that Carsten signed a loan agreement shortly before the operation,” the woman named only as Anastasia is quoted saying. “The condition was that I wouldn’t have to pay him back if I stayed with him for a year.”

But the pair split shortly after she underwent the plastic surgery. The woman said she had transferred 3,000 euros into her ex-boyfriend’s account last week.  I don’t blame the guy, he should at least get a partial refund.

Shitty Coffee for $200 a Pound?

The coffee is highly prized for its smooth flavor and bitterless aftertaste, sometimes fetching well over $200 a pound online.  Indonesia’s top Islamic body declared Tuesday that Muslims can drink civet coffee — the world’s most expensive coffee, which is extracted from the dung of civet cats.

A preacher recently suggested the beverage might not be “halal” — or religiously approved — because its provenance makes it unclean. But after a long discussion Tuesday, the influential Indonesian Ulema Council said that the coffee, known locally as Kopi Luwak, could be consumed as long as the beans were washed.

Kopi Luwak, which takes it name from the Indonesian word for civets, is made from hard beans that have been eaten by the nocturnal critters and then fermented in their stomachs before being pooped out and roasted. Civet cats are mongoose-like animals.

In Indonesia, the world’s most populous Muslim nation, Kopi Luwak is produced in the main Java island, Sumatra and Sulawesi. It is also found under different names elsewhere in Southeast Asia. Only 1,000 pounds are said to be produced annually worldwide.

The Ulema Council has often issued fatwas, or edicts, including several controversial rulings against smoking and yoga. Its edicts are not legally binding, but many devout Muslims abide by them. I will stick to Tim Horton’s and Starbucks, thanks.

Weird Awards

The 19th annual IG Nobel Prizes have been awarded and here are some of the silly winners:

BIOLOGY PRIZE: Fumiaki Taguchi, Song Guofu, and Zhang Guanglei of
Kitasato University Graduate School of Medical Sciences in Sagamihara,
Japan, for demonstrating that kitchen refuse can be reduced more than
90% in mass by using bacteria extracted from the feces of giant pandas.

PEACE PRIZE: Stephan Bolliger, Steffen Ross, Lars Oesterhelweg, Michael
Thali and Beat Kneubuehl of the University of Bern, Switzerland, for
determining — by experiment — whether it is better to be
smashed over the head with a full bottle of beer or with an empty bottle.

ECONOMICS PRIZE: The directors, executives, and auditors of four Icelandic
banks — Kaupthing Bank, Landsbanki, Glitnir Bank, and Central
Bank of Iceland — for demonstrating that tiny banks can be rapidly
transformed into huge banks, and vice versa — and for demonstrating
that similar things can be done to an entire national economy.

Artist Creates a Monster and Goes to Jail

Joseph Carnevale, 21, has been arrested by the Raleigh Police Department for creating this cool traffic barrel monster.  Rumor has it that this little artistic prank would have gone unpunished if it wasn’t for the fact that the police chiefs wife, Sarah Renyolds had a fender bender after spotting this and was laughing so hard she lost control of her brand new Navigator and crashed into the barrels just beyond this peice of art.