A huge cache of canvases painted by Pablo Picasso nearly 100 years ago were unveiled for the first time by a French man who claimed the art works were gifted to him by the legend.

The collection of 271 paintings, drawings, sketches and lithographs, many of which were previously unknown, dates from 1900 to 1932. The extraordinary works of Picasso, worth more than 50 million pounds, were found at the home of a retired French electrician.

The revelation came when Pierre Le Guennec an electrician in his 70s, approached the office of the Picasso Administration, which manages the artist’s legacy, seeking certificate of authenticity of the artefacts.

There he produced a 175 different works including two notebooks containing 97 previously unseen drawings, along with 59 photographs of other pieces that, he claimed, were by Picasso.

The artworks include nine cubist collages worth at least 40 million euros, a painting from his celebrated blue period, drawings and models for some of his most important works and portraits of his first wife, the Russian ballerina Olga Khokhlova.

Experts said many of the paintings are from the period between 1900 and 1932, when the young and penniless Picasso arrived in France from Barcelona to the beginning of his recognition as one of the world’s greatest artists.

The electrician said Picasso had given him the pieces after he installed alarm systems at the painter’s various homes, including the mill at Notre Dame de Vie in Mougins, where Picasso died in 1973.

Claude Picasso, the late painter’s son, who represents the artist’s heirs and estate, said the collection has a “historic importance” as it was produced during a “crucial period; a revolutionary movement in art”.