Several dozen paintings belonging to the Portuguese State, by renowned Spanish artist Joan Miró, are to remain in Portugal as opposed to being sold off at auction.
A collection of 85 Miró paintings reportedly worth an estimated €35 million was to have been auctioned off in 2014 as Portugal sought to stave off the economic crisis.
But, the Finance Ministry announced this week that a deal has been reached with auction house Christie’s to revoke the auction contract and the artwork will remain in Portugal.
In October last year, an exhibition of the paintings by the Catalan master was staged in Porto at the Serralves Museum.
The set of paintings and other works were inherited by the Portuguese state after the collapse and bankruptcy of the Banco Português de Negócios (BPN) bank in 2013.
The paintings were to have been sold at auction in February 2014 at London auction house Christie’s, which ended up cancelling the sale because of ongoing legal action in Portugal concerning whether due process had been followed in taking them out of the country.
Twice in 2014 State companies attempted to sell the works through the London auction house, but were prevented by legal proceedings by public prosecutors, on the grounds that the correct proceedings for dealing with cultural artefacts had not been followed.
Last year, Portuguese Prime Minister António Costa announced that the collection, which is the largest of the artist’s work in the world, would be permanently kept at the Serralves Museum in Porto.
The inauguration of the exhibition entitled ‘Joan Miró: Materiality and Metamorphosis’, was attended by the Portuguese President, Marcelo Rebelo de Sousa, the Prime Minister, António Costa, the Minister for Culture, Luís Filipe Castro Mendes, and the President of Spain, Mariano Rajoy.
The exhibition, curated by Robert Lubar Messeri, closed on 27 January, 2017, and covered six decades of the artist’s work – from 1924 to 1981.
The works had never before been put on public display in Portugal.