An Angolan-born Hollywood movie financier has reportedly offered to buy 85 paintings by Catalan artist Joan Miro from the cash-strapped Portuguese government.
Rui Costa Reis, 46-year-old Angolan-born son of Portuguese emigrants who made his fortune in cereals and expanded into the movie business, has offered 44 million euros ($60 million) for the collection owned by the Portuguese state, the Diario business daily said.
The entrepreneur promised to place the Spanish artists’ works on exhibition for 50 years in the northern Portuguese port city of Porto, his mother’s birthplace, the paper said.
The Portuguese government did not offer an immediate reaction to the report.
The Joan Miro collection is scheduled to be placed on auction by Christie’s in June after an earlier sale on February 4 was cancelled at the last minute because of a legal dispute.
Christie’s backed out because of a legal spat in Portugal, where the opposition Socialists had lodged a challenge to the Miro auction.
Although a Portuguese court rejected the Socialists’ challenge, Christie’s decided to not go ahead after the court pointed out “irregularities” in the export of the paintings.
The collection was then returned to Portugal and placed in the vaults of the state-owned banking group Caixa Geral de Depositos.
The Miro works became Portuguese state property following the nationalisation of the indebted BPN bank in 2008.
Their proposed sale has been met with outrage by art lovers in Portugal.
Christie’s says it is one of the largest and most impressive Miro collections ever put up for sale.
It includes one of Miro’s most notable works, “Women and Birds”, which Christie’s has valued at between £4 million and £7 million (4.9 million and 8.5 million euros).
Prime Minister Pedro Passos Coelho has said the government is determined to sell the paintings, however, because it cannot afford to maintain and secure the collection.
In May 2011, the country agreed to a programme of strict fiscal discipline in exchange for an international bailout package worth 78 billion euros.