Page last updated at 12:58 GMT, Friday, 26 September 2008 13:58 UK

Picasso painting to be auctioned

The painting will be displayed in London, Moscow and New York

One of the most important works by artist Pablo Picasso is to be sold at auction in New York.

Picasso's Arlequin was last seen in public 45 years ago and is expected to fetch over $30m (£16.3m) when it goes under the hammer in November.

The Cubist painting was owned by Surrealist artist Enrico Donati, who died earlier this year aged 99.

Emmanuel Di-Donna, of Sotheby’s, said it was one the "greatest" Cubists to be sold on the open market.


He added: "International collectors have not been presented with such a fantastic opportunity to compete for one of the great Picasso portraits since Sotheby's sale of Dora Maar au chat.

"The last major portrayal of the harlequin, often considered the artist's alter ego, was Au Lapin Agile which was sold at Sotheby's in 1989 for $40.7m (£22m); and the rarity of this 1909 work is further enhanced by being one of the greatest Cubist paintings to ever come to the market."

Italian-born Donati bought Arlequin in Paris in the 1940s after becoming entranced by an early Cubist work by Picasso during a visit to the Musee d'art moderne.

According to Donati's handwritten notes, he read the name of the lender on a label below the painting: Galerie Louise Leiris; and rushed to the gallery to try and buy a Cubist work before returning to New York.

He was quoted the equivalent of $12,000 (£6,512) for a painting of a Harlequin resting his chin on one hand and concluded the deal on the spot.

The painting will be seen by the public for the first time in more than 45 years when it goes on view at Sotheby's in London from 3-7 October.

It will then go on display at the Moscow Museum of Modern Art from 16-19 October and Sotheby's New York from 29 October to 3 November.

Mr Di-Donna added: "Arlequin will surely whet any seasoned or new collector's appetite given its impeccable provenance, condition and importance in the artist's body of work."

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