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Wednesday, 25 July, 2001, 09:27 GMT 10:27 UK
$40m art sale for charity
Pablo Picasso
Picasso: Works to benefit UN children's fund
The most valuable bequest Unicef has received - a collection of modern artworks valued at $40m (£28m) - is to go on display in London before being auctioned in New York in November.

The 25 paintings, by Picasso, Miró, Magritte, Braque and Renoir, were part of the collection of the late René Gaffé.

The Belgian journalist died in 1968, but his second wife - Jeanne - left the works to the UN children's fund after her death last October.

Landscape by the Love River
Miró's Landscape by the Love River could fetch £5m
The paintings are "exceptional in their quality and their state," said Thomas Seydoux, director of the impressionist and modern art department at Christie's, who will conduct the sale on 6 November.

The collection, which has been held at the Gaffé villa in southwest France, includes several paintings that have not been seen in public.

Huge canvases

Included in the group is Picasso's 1908 cubist Étude pour Nu dans une Foret, once owned by the writer Gertrude Stein and expected to go for more than $5m (£3.5m).

Also for auction will be a portrait by Magritte of his friend Gaffé, who founded the French language daily L'Echo Belge.

Two huge canvases by Spanish painter Joan Miró are each valued at $7m (£5m).

"Paintings that are in perfect condition, of prime importance for art, which have never been sold before, will be an unbelievable force on the current market," said Seydoux.

An additional Gaffé collection, of primitive art, will be auctioned by Christie's in Paris in aid of the French cancer charity, L'Institut Curie, on 8 December.

That collection is expected to make $3.9m (£2.7m).

Impoverished

There are reports that Unicef may have chosen to auction the more valuable collection outside of France in order to avoid the "droit de suite" tax which is in force in that country.

In France, as in many EU countries, 5% of the price of every piece of art sold goes to the artist or to their family up to 70 years after the artist's death.

Study for Nude in the Forest
Picasso's Study for Nude in the Forest is for auction
The idea is to give some of the benefit of their work to impoverished artists whose work begins to sell for enormous sums either later in life or after their death.

The UK had hitherto avoided EU attempts to impose the tax but from 1 January 2006 it will come into force in this country.

The government has vigorously opposed the tax, which art dealers claim will send art works for sale outside the EU, damaging the UK's thriving art market.

In this case Unicef was anxious to maximise the money it makes from the sale.

"The profits of this sale will help millions of children throughout the world, to be immunized, to go to school, and to grow to adulthood in health, peace and dignity," said Carol Bellamy, director general of Unicef.

See also:

07 Dec 99 | Business
Grim picture for arts market
10 May 01 | Arts
Picasso portrait fails to sell
07 Feb 01 | Entertainment
Picasso's muse fetches £3m
20 Feb 01 | Entertainment
Picasso's erotic works on display
06 May 99 | e-cyclopedia
Catalonia chic: UK pays homage
08 May 98 | Americas
Major works left to museum
06 Apr 01 | Arts
Stolen Renoir recovered
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