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Last Updated: Thursday, 9 November 2006, 00:34 GMT
Disputed Picasso auction halted
By Damian Fowler
BBC News

Portrait of Angel Fernandez de Soto
Andrew Lloyd Webber bought the painting for $28m in 1995
One of the biggest art auctions in history, taking place in New York, has been marred by controversy.

A 1903 Picasso painting, which was to have been auctioned by Sir Andrew Lloyd Webber, has been withdrawn at the last minute due to its Nazi-era history.

A descendant of a previous owner claims his ancestors were forced by the Nazis to sell the painting in the 1930s.

The piece, Portrait of Angel Fernandez de Soto, was predicted to fetch up to $60m (£31.5m).

The auction had been touted as a once in a lifetime art sale by Christie's auction house.

TOP 10 AUCTION SALES
Garçon à la pipe by Pablo Picasso - May 2004 - $104.1m
Dora Maar au Chat by Pablo Picasso - May 2006 - $95.2m
Portrait of Dr Gachet by Vincent van Gogh - May 1990 - $82.5m
Bal au moulin de la Galette, Montmartre by Pierre-Auguste Renoir - May 1990 - $78m
Massacre of the Innocents by Peter Paul Rubens - July 2002 - $76.7m
Portrait de l'artiste sans barbe by Vincent van Gogh - November 1998 - $65m
Rideau, Cruchon et Compotier by Paul Cézanne - May 1999 - $60.5m
Femme aux Bras Croisés by Pablo Picasso - November 2000 - $50m
Irises by Vincent van Gogh - November 1987 - $49m
Les Noces de Pierrette by Pablo Picasso - November 1989 - $49m

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

But it is not the only painting in the sale with a Nazi connection. All eyes are on four paintings by Gustav Klimt, the Austrian artist, which were at the centre of a Nazi restitution case earlier this year.

That case was resolved to the satisfaction of the owners, who have now put these masterworks up for auction. They are predicted to go for more than $100m.

Another Klimt from the same group fetched the highest price ever paid for a painting when it was sold in June. New York's Neue Galerie is reported to have paid $135m for Klimt's Portrait of Adele Bloch-Bauer.




SEE ALSO
Lloyd Webber art auction halted
07 Nov 06 |  Entertainment
Picasso portrait goes on display
15 Sep 06 |  Entertainment
Lloyd Webber to sell off Picasso
01 Jul 06 |  Entertainment
Lloyd Webber's art to go on show
20 May 03 |  Entertainment
Picasso portrait fetches $95.2m
04 May 06 |  Entertainment
Valuable Picasso comes to London
22 Mar 06 |  Entertainment

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