Christie's scraps sale of Miro paintings amid Portugal legal dispute

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 05 February, 2014, 9:03pm
UPDATED : Thursday, 06 February, 2014, 3:11am


Auction house Christie's said it had cancelled the London sale of 85 paintings by Spanish master Joan Miro, valued at more than €36 million (HK$377 million), over a legal dispute in Portugal.

The paintings became Portuguese state property following the nationalisation of the BPN bank in 2008, and their sale had been met with opposition by art lovers in Portugal.

The cash-strapped Portuguese government had argued that the sale of the paintings would raise funds.

On Tuesday, a Portuguese court rejected a request from the opposition Socialist party for the sale to be halted. But hours before the first of the paintings was due to be sold, Christie's said it would not go ahead with the sale because of "legal uncertainties".

"The sale of the collection of 85 works by Joan Miro has been cancelled as a result of a dispute before the Portuguese court, to which Christie's is not a party," the auction house said.

"While the recent injunction to stop the sale was not granted, the legal uncertainties created by this ongoing dispute mean that we are not able to safely offer the works for sale."

One of Miro's most notable works, Women and Birds, which Christie's had valued at between £4 million (HK$51 million) and £7 million, was to have been sold.