Picasso was, by some estimates, one of the wealthiest men in the world when he died, in 1973.In the early 1980s, after years of legal wrangling and well-publicized squabbling over the settlement of his estate, his heirs established a committee to officially authenticate his works.“I nearly died.” Others close to the Picasso family, however, describe a long-standing state of low-grade tension between Maya and Claude over the issue of authentication, coupled with a long-term effort by Claude to enlist the support of his fellow heirs in consolidating the authentication process under his auspices.
On one occasion, he refused to sign a canvas he knew he had painted, saying, “I can paint false Picassos just as well as anybody.” On another, he refused to sign an authentic painting, explaining to the woman who had brought it to him, “If I sign it now, I’ll be putting my 1943 signature on a canvas painted in 1922.
The letter states that all requests for authentication should henceforth be addressed to Claude, specifying that “only his opinions shall be fully and officially acknowledged by the undersigned.” Among the undersigned, however, one signature was conspicuously absent: that of Maya, the artist’s elder daughter.
According to Bernard, the decision to designate Claude as the sole authenticator was made in order to simplify the authentication process and clarify it for the sake of the Picasso market.
In 1993, however, that committee was disbanded after disputes among the heirs over the authenticity of a set of drawings.
Afterward, two of the heirs—Picasso’s daughter Maya Widmaier-Picasso and son Claude Ruiz-Picasso—began issuing certificates of authenticity independent of one another.