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Picasso $77 Million Portrait to Leave U.K., Rescue Fails

"Child With a Dove," a 1901 oil-on-canvas by Pablo Picasso. The painting is being sold in a private transaction broked by Christie's International after being in the same U.K.-based family collection since 1947. Source: The Courtauld Gallery, "Becoming Picasso: Paris 1901," via Bloomberg.

April 13 (Bloomberg) -- A Pablo Picasso painting valued at 50 million pounds ($77 million) has been sold privately by Christie’s International after U.K. institutions failed to raise the necessary funds to keep it in the country.

The 1901 canvas “Child with a Dove,” a precursor of Picasso’s Blue Period works, was one of the first paintings by the artist to enter a U.K. collection.

The Picasso is owned by descendants of Lady Aberconway, who was bequeathed the painting by the industrialist Samuel Courtauld in 1947. It was placed on long-term loan to London’s National Gallery from 1974 to 2010, and is currently on show in the “Becoming Picasso: Paris 1901” exhibition at the Courtauld Gallery, ending on May 26.

U.K. Culture Minister Ed Vaizey placed a temporary export bar in August 2012 to give British institutions the opportunity to buy the painting at the recommended price of 50 million pounds.

As no U.K.-based buyer was found, the Picasso can now be sold to Christie’s unidentified purchaser.

“We can confirm that Christie’s was invited to negotiate the private sale of this picture but we are unable to discuss the matter further,” the London-based auction house said in an e-mail. The company declined to confirm the final purchase price yesterday.

“Child with a Dove” has been bought by the emirate of Qatar, the French daily newspaper Le Figaro said on April 10.

Qatar Reports

The oil-rich Middle Eastern state has also been identified in reports as the purchaser of one of Paul Cezanne’s “Card Players” for $250 million in February 2012 and the so-called “Rockefeller” Rothko for $72.8 million in May 2007. Qatar refuses to comment on its art purchases.

“It is a great shame that institutions could not raise the funds necessary to keep this beautiful piece of art in this country,” Richard Inglewood said on April 11. Inglewood is chairman of the Reviewing Committee on the Export of Works of Art and Objects of Cultural Interest, administered by Arts Council England.

“In the case of the Picasso, clearly money was the problem,” he said. “While steps are being taken to increase philanthropy in the country, this suggests they may not be enough.”

Culture Minister Vaizey has also placed a temporary export bar on Raphael’s black chalk drawing “Head of a Young Apostle,” sold for 29.7 million pounds at Sotheby’s, London, in December 2012.

U.K.-based buyers have until Jan. 3, 2014, to match the Raphael’s auction price.

Muse highlights include New York and London weekend guides, Lewis Lapham’s podcasts and Jeremy Gerard on U.S. theater.

To contact the writer on the story: Scott Reyburn in London at

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Manuela Hoelterhoff at

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