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Israel Museum Plans Sotheby’s Sale to Boost Modern Art Wing

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Oct. 2 (Bloomberg) -- The Israel Museum in Jerusalem plans to sell 39 impressionist and other artworks at Sotheby’s starting in November in the hope of raising more than $17 million for new modern art acquisitions, its director said.

“The idea was to be very selective and take a group of works where we were overly represented and raise funds to acquire works in the same period where we have gaps or weaknesses,” director James Snyder said in a phone interview.

The collection of Marc Chagall is strong but could be improved with works by the artist from before the 1920s, Snyder said. The modern art wing, while owning a good representation of Pablo Picasso, could add some “analytic cubist” works by the master, he said.

The Sotheby’s sale, which will run through February in New York and London, follows the completion of the national museum’s three-year $100 million makeover that included the creation of new galleries and public spaces and a review of the institution’s 500,000-piece collection.

On offer will be “Le cirque” by Marc Chagall, “Le Louvre, matin, printemps,” by Camille Pissarro, and “Ledroit chemin” by Rene Magritte, among others, according to an e-mailed statement from Sotheby’s, whose list gave pre-sale estimates for six of the pieces that came to as much as $11.6 million.

There are 3,500 modern art pieces currently at the museum.

To contact the reporter on this story: Gwen Ackerman in Jerusalem at gackerman@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Manuela Hoelterhoff at mhoelterhoff@bloomberg.net.

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