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Taint on brand Picasso

Brussels, Sept. 11: A senior officer of the EU’s highest court has given Pablo Picasso’s heirs an astonishing dressing down, condemning the use of their father’s name on products such as the Citroen people carrier.

The Picasso heirs, among them the jewellery and cosmetics designer Paloma Picasso, had asked the European Court of Justice (ECJ) to stop DaimlerChrysler using the trademark Picaro, arguing that it was too close to the artist’s name.

After a series of defeats in lower European courts this was the family’s last appeal and they must have been braced for a rebuff.

What they probably did not expect was stiff criticism of their own actions in licensing the Picasso name to Citroen and sundry other firms.

The opinion was the work of D'maso Ruiz-Jarabo Colomer, a Spanish advocate general at the Luxembourg-based court, who left little doubt of his personal reverence for the artist.

Ruiz-Jarabo was rather less complimentary about the artist’s heirs ' his children Claude, Paloma and Maya, and his grandchildren Marina and Bernard Picasso ' who brought the case.

He began his rejection of their appeal by expressing “surprise” at seeing the name Pablo Ruiz Picasso involved in “banal legal matter”, unrelated to his works of art.

He went on: “It is sad to note that the most outstanding, mythic figure of the 20th century, a piece of the common heritage of humanity, has been reduced to a piece of merchandise.”

While he conceded that the family of the artist had “a legitimate interest” in defending the name, he denounced its “immoderate use for commercial ends”.

The Picasso name is controlled by the Picasso administration in Paris. It is run by Claude Ruiz Picasso, one of the four children he bore, by three different women.

Paloma, the best known of the children, has not shied away from her father’s towering shadow, naming one of her scents Minotaure, in homage to one of the recurrent images in his work.

The artist’s other surviving child, Maya, is an authenticator of his art.

The family licensed the name to Citroen for use on its Xsara model, which bears a facsimile of his signature.

Ruiz-Jarabo observed in a footnote to his opinion that the Citroen deal had provoked criticism, “notably from the director of the Picasso Museum in Paris, who feared the image of the genius would be irreversibly harmed, and that, in the third millennium, Picasso would be no more than a brand of motor car”.

Invoking the name of “universal cultural heritage”, he argued that society had a general interest in “preserving the name of great artists from insatiable mercantile greed, to keep their works from being wrecked by banality”.

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