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Last Updated: Tuesday, 7 November 2006, 17:58 GMT
Lloyd Webber art auction back on
Portrait of Angel Fernandez de Soto
Lord Lloyd Webber bought the painting for 18m in 1995
Andrew Lloyd Webber's art foundation has been given the go-ahead to sell a Picasso painting after a US judge temporarily stopped the sale.

The auction was halted after a German man claimed his ancestor was forced to sell the work during the 1930s.

In a statement the foundation said the claims were "utterly spurious, without legal or factual substance."

The piece, Portrait of Angel Fernandez de Soto, taken from the artist's Blue Period, is worth up to $60m (31.5m).

The auction, which will take place at Christie's in New York will go ahead on Wednesday.

Julius H Schoeps, an heir to Berlin banker Paul von Mendelssohn-Bartholdy, claims he had to sell the painting at a low price after he was forced to flee his mansion during the 1930s.

Good causes

Mr von Mendelssohn-Bartholdy, whose family had converted from Judaism to Christianity, died in 1935.

A foundation spokesman said: "During the eleven years the charity has owned the picture no-one has previously raised any questions about the ownership.

"It has been exhibited publicly several times at the National Gallery as well as the Royal Academy of Arts in London and the New York Fine Arts Fair," he added.

The foundation also claims it only found out about the legal action two days before the auction was due to take place.

Lord Lloyd Webber bought the painting in 1995 for 18m and at the time he said the artwork was "mesmeric".

The musician's foundation had planned to donate the money raised to a variety of arts charities.

Lloyd Webber art auction halted
07 Nov 06 |  Entertainment
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15 Sep 06 |  Entertainment
Lloyd Webber to sell off Picasso
01 Jul 06 |  Entertainment
Picasso portrait fetches $95.2m
04 May 06 |  Entertainment
Valuable Picasso comes to London
22 Mar 06 |  Entertainment

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