LISBON, Portugal An auction of 85 works by the Catalan artist Joan Miro that are owned by the Portuguese state, scheduled to take place on Wednesday in London, was suspended after protests erupted over the sale of a cultural heritage.
Christie's, the auction house in London where the sale was slated to take place, said the sale was suspended due to Portugal's "judicial uncertainty."
Portugal's Office of Culture Heritage said the works had been taken out of the country illegally, and denounced the auction as constituting a loss to the country's cultural ancestry. Miro, a painter most well-known for his surrealist work, died in 1983.
On Wednesday, the attorney general filed a new petition giving approval to the sale of the paintings, after an initial petition had been rejected by the administrative court of Lisbon.
The Portuguese government said it will continue to pursue the works' auction. "In the context of the country's situation, unfortunately culture must also stand in solidarity," said Secretary for Culture Jorge Barreto, who estimated the worth of the trove to be $47 million.
The collection belonged to the BPN bank, which was nationalized in 2008 after several scandals and financial losses. Portugal is slated to complete its $105 million bailout package in June.
Christie's had described the pieces in Wednesday's sale as an "extensive and impressive" collection of Miro's work.
(Reporting for this story also was done in London.)
(c)2014 Deutsche Presse-Agentur GmbH (Hamburg, Germany)
Visit Deutsche Presse-Agentur GmbH (Hamburg, Germany) at http://www.dpa.de/English.82.0.html
Distributed by MCT Information Services