A trove of invaluable Pablo Picasso paintings is about to hit the international art market — and none of the sales will involve a dealer or auction house.

Marina Picasso, the granddaughter of the legendary artist and heir to a collection of more than 10,000 of his works, is taking the unconventional step of avoiding the auction block, hoping to reap a greater windfall for the international charities she backs. “It’s better for me to sell my works and preserve the money to redistribute to humanitarian causes,” she told The New York Times. “I have paintings, of course, that I can use to support these projects.”

Marina currently uses her inheritance to fund a pediatric hospital in Vietnam, as well as organizations in France and Switzerland that assist the elderly and troubled teens. Rumors have suggested that she will initially sell off seven works of art valued at more than $250 million, including "Portrait de femme" (estimated to be worth about $60 million), "Femme à la Mandoline" (estimated to be worth about $60 million), and "Maternité" (estimated to be worth about $54 million). 

Picasso's "Portrait de femme (Olga)" is expected to fetch as much as $60 million when it hits the private market. (Photo: Pablo Picasso)

According to The Guardian, Marina's decision to sell the works privately likely stems from a charity auction in 2013 that failed to live up to her expectations. By going private, selling each painting "one by one, based on need," she'll have more control and a more exclusive network of collectors to deal with. 

"I find it interesting that people might be surprised that someone who has pictures might sell them herself," art consultant Patrick Legant told The Guardian. "I’m sure a lot of pictures are sold, not through a dealer or an auction house, but because they know people who might be interested, and I’m sure she knows a lot of people who have the means to buy a Picasso."

Beyond funding her charity projects, The Times has hinted that the sale is also something of a "purging" of her legacy. The relationship between Marina and her grandfather, as described in her 2001 memoir, was one devoid of love. 

"No one in my family managed to escape his stranglehold," she wrote. "He needed blood to sign each of his paintings: my father's blood, my brother's, my mother's, my grandmother's, and mine; the blood of all those who loved him — people who thought that they loved a human being, whereas instead they loved Picasso."

After Picasso died in 1973, Marina says the financial windfall that came her way was less about monetary gain and more about enabling her passion to help others. 

“It was really difficult to carry this celebrated name and to have a difficult financial life,” she told The Times. “I think because of it I developed my sense of humanity and my desire to help others.”

According to Marina, the first work that will be sold is a 1935 piece called "La Famille," which depicts a family set against an arid landscape. 

“It’s symbolic because I was born in a great family, but it was a family that was not a family,” she said.

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Michael d'Estries ( @michaeldestries ) covers science, technology, art, and the beautiful, unusual corners of our incredible world.

Picasso's granddaughter to sell famous works for charity
Marina Picasso, heir to 10,000 works by the legendary artist, wants to unload paintings thought to be worth more than $250 million.