Vanity Fair has an excellent story (well worth reading in its entirety) by Milton Esterow, founder of ArtNews magazine, about the mess Picasso left behind with his enormous body of work, many heirs and no will. Here Esterow describes the size of the problem:
When Picasso died, 43 years ago at the age of 91, he left an astounding number of works—more than 45,000 in all. (“We’d have to rent the Empire State Building to house all the works,” Claude Picasso said when the inventory was completed.) There were 1,885 paintings, 1,228 sculptures, 7,089 drawings, 30,000 prints, 150 sketchbooks, and 3,222 ceramic works. There were vast numbers of illustrated books, copperplates, and tapestries. And then there were the two châteaux and three other homes. (Picasso lived in and worked in about 20 places from 1900 to 1973.) According to one person familiar with the estate, there was $4.5 million in cash and $1.3 million in gold. There were also stocks and bonds, the value of which was never made public. In 1980 the Picasso estate was appraised at $250 million, but experts have said the true value was actually in the billions.
Picasso did not leave a will. The division of his holdings took six years, with often bitter negotiations among the heirs. (There were seven then.) The settlement cost $30 million and produced what has been described as a saga worthy of Balzac. The family, writer Deborah Trustman noted at the time, “resembles one of Picasso’s Cubist constructions—wives, mistresses, legitimate and illegitimate children (his youngest born 28 years after his oldest), and grandchildren—all strung on an axis like the backbone of a figure with unmatched parts.” Read More