Claude Ruiz-Picasso (1947-2023)

Claude Ruiz-Picasso, youngest son of the Spanish painter Pablo Picasso (1881-1973), died in Geneva, Switzerland, at the age of 76 a few months after the death of his mother, Françoise Gilot (1921-2023), at the age of 101, last June.

Born May 15, 1947 in Boulogne-Billancourt, Claude Ruiz-Picasso studied in England, then in France, before going to live in New York between 1967 and 1974, where he was assistant to photographer Richard Avedon for a year and photojournalist for fashion magazines such as vogue And TimeLife.

In 1989, he was appointed by the courts as administrator of the Picasso Estate. The Succession holds the monopoly of copyright (moral and patrimonial) and trademarks, as well as derivative rights, managed through a company, Picasso Administration, created in 1995 by Claude Ruiz-Picasso. Last July, he decided to hand over management of the Estate to his sister, Paloma Ruiz-Picasso.

Relations between Claude and his father were often strained, even non-existent. Picasso had cut off all contact with his children after the publication in 1964 of the book, Living with Picasso, by Françoise Gilot and Carlton Lake, which he had tried to have banned. In 1969 Claude Picasso had started a legal battle to be recognized as his legitimate son and his legal heir. The court had ruled in his favor, as well as that of his sister Paloma, making them the legal heirs of Picasso, a year after the death of the artist (disappeared without leaving a will).

This was only the first of many battles that would follow within the Picasso family over the decades. Claude was involved in numerous disputes with other Picasso heirs, notably Jacqueline Roque (1927-1986) – the artist’s second wife, Maya Widmaier-Picasso – his half-sister from Picasso’s relationship with Marie -Thérèse Walter, and Picasso’s grandchildren, Marina and Bernard.

The most publicized dispute took place in 1999 when Claude “sold” the “Picasso” name and signature to the car manufacturer Peugeot-Citroën, which used these marks for a car bearing the artist’s name. Marina Picasso then sued him, accusing him of disrespecting “one of the greatest painters, a genius”. His cousin Olivier, at the origin of the contract, assured that “the heirs never wanted to do merchandising: it imposed itself on them”. According to the Picasso Estate, the millions paid out each year by the builder help the Picasso Administration track down fraudsters and pay lawsuits.

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