On the Cover April 2012

Picasso has an interesting connection to the world of estate planning in that he spectacularly botched his own. He died on April 8, 1973 and left behind a huge estate consisting of cash, homes and, of course, his own work. He famously left no will.

At the time, his only known heirs under French intestacy laws were his current wife and a son from a previous marriage. However, Picasso was a notorious womanizer who had well-publicized affairs with a number of mistresses. Ultimately, when all of his illegitimate children stood to be counted, the estate was divided among a total of six heirs.

As a result of his lack of planning, Picasso's estate owed an enormous sum to the French government to pay off his death duties (the French equivalent of estate tax). Due to a then-existing loophole in the law, the estate was allowed to donate works of art to the government in lieu of paying out any cash. (Though, had they known how much the art would come to be worth, I imagine the heirs would have been more than happy to part with the cash instead.) The government used this large donation to found the Musée Picasso in Paris.

In total, it took over six years to close out Picasso's estate, resulting in donations of art to the government worth over $30 million and raising the possibility that the frowning model for the plate that graces this month's cover, “Visage no. 189” (9.7 in. by 9.7 in.), which sold for $10,828 at Christie's Impressionist/Modern Sale in London on Feb. 10, 2012, was Picasso's estate-planning lawyer.

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