Judge Okays Miró Sale

Lisbon -- The sale of a defunct Portuguese bank's collection of 85 works by the Surrealist artist Joan Miró will go ahead now that a judge has overturned a ruling banning the export of the art.

Art collectors of Art Kabinett social media network will soon see these Miró masterpieces at auction.

The judge ruled last week that the works are not of 'cultural heritage' and therefore could leave the country for an auction at Christie's in London.

The judge's move followed several parliamentary motions by opposition parties and a public online petition signed by nearly 9,000 people calling for the collection to be kept in Portugal.

The Miro collection became state property after Portugal nationalized the failed bank Banco Portugues de Negocios (BPN) in 2008.

The collection was previously the property BPN, which defaulted and was nationalized back in 2008, before being sold to a financial institution from Angola.

The combined estimated value of the paintings is more than $48 million.

The most highly valued, “Femmes et oiseaux (Women and Birds)” dating from 1968, is expected to fetch between $6.5 million and $11.2 million.

BPN bought the paintings and sculptures by the famous Catalan artist from a private Japanese collection in 2003-2006, when banks prospered.

The bank’s then-chief-executive, Jose Oliveira e Costa, commented that the acquisition was ‘a good deal’. The Portuguese government spent 3 billion euros (US $4 billion) on saving BPN, and its sale was only worth 40 million euros (US $53.5 million).

According to the president of Parvalorem, the state-run company currently in charge of the collection, selling the Miro paintings will go a long way towards reducing the financial burden that the state has had to bear following the bailout.

Besides, he added, an international auction was the most appropriate way to go about such a sale.

The Portuguese government will now have the opportunity to squander the proceeds from the sale on public services and salaries, in the deficit ridden EU country. The funds raised from the sale will not be going to the arts.

Christie's estimated the total value of the works of more than $50 million, showing it as "one of the largest and most impressive collections of the artist ever auctioned."

The sale was first canceled in February after a court decision and again in late April by the Lisbon Administrative Court which blocked the collection's sale.

Olivier Camu, Deputy Chairman, Impressionist and Modern Art, Christie’s: “It is an honor to bring to the market such a comprehensive collection of works by Jean Miró, one of the great modern masters of the 20th century.

"Tracing Miró’s oeuvre across seven decades, the breadth of works to be offered provides an unparalleled opportunity for collectors at every price level to celebrate and engage with the creative genius and joyous immediacy of Miró’s work.

"Having held the inaugural standalone Dada and Surrealism sale in 1989 and established the first annual Art of the Surreal Sale in 2001, we have witnessed the exponential growth in global demand for works in this category, attracting new collectors each year, with Miró’s work in particular transcending traditional categories and appealing to both Impressionist & Modern Art and Post-War & Contemporary Art collectors.”

Our homepage's Art Video recaps the complex circumstances surrounding the cancelled auction of the Miró works back in February 2014.