Picasso to Be Sold after Nazi Row Settled

A Picasso painting belonging to British composer Andrew Lloyd Webber will be sold at auction, Christie’s said this week, four years after it was pulled from sale over alleged Nazi links.

Lloyd Webber – composer of musicals like Phantom of the Opera and Cats – originally announced his intention to sell Portrait of Angel Fernandez de Soto (The Absinthe Drinker) for charity in 2006.

It was later withdrawn from auction after a claim that a previous owner, German-Jewish banker Paul von Mendelssohn-Bartholdy, had sold it under duress from the Nazi regime in Germany in the 1930s.

But von Mendelssohn-Bartholdy’s descendants reached an out-of-court settlement in the US in January with the Andrew Lloyd Webber Foundation, which is selling the picture, allowing it to retain ownership.

The terms of the deal were not disclosed under a settlement agreed by lawyers.

The 1903 masterpiece, from Picasso’s blue period, is expected to fetch up to £40 million (US$60 million) when it goes on sale in London on June 23.

Jussi Pylkkanen, president of Christie’s Europe, Russia and the Middle East, said the painting was “one of the most important works of art to be offered at auction in decades.”

The firm added in a statement that the ownership challenge has been “resolved by agreement and the claimants have withdrawn all claims to the painting, leaving the foundation free to sell the work.”

Proceeds from the sale of the painting are set to be used by the Andrew Lloyd Webber Foundation to benefit arts, culture and heritage causes in Britain.

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