Australian university celebrates $20m Picasso sale

22nd June 2011, Comments 0 comments

The University of Sydney was celebrating Wednesday after a Picasso painting it was given sold for more than US$20 million at a London auction, with the funds to be used for scientific research.

"Jeune fille endormie", an intimate portrait of the Spanish-born artist's lover Marie-Therese Walter, whom he met when he was 45 and she was 17, was one of three works at Christie's Impressionist and Modern Art Evening Sale.

It sold for £13.5 million (US$22 million) on Tuesday, easily surpassing its £9 million valuation.

The 1935 portrait was donated to the university last year by a mystery American, on the condition that it would be sold and all proceeds directed to scientific research.

"This is a great result which is transformative for the university and for the health of the nation," said University of Sydney Vice-Chancellor Michael Spence.

"The sale of this remarkable work is the result of one donor's extraordinary generosity who said 'this painting is going to change the lives of many people'.

"They were right. We are grateful for their extraordinary generosity and delighted with the outcome of the auction."

The money will be spent on research into diabetes, obesity and heart disease.

"It is a university-wide project that will involve everyone from economists to sociologists," added Spence.

The artwork was originally bought by the founder of the Chrysler car company, Walter Chrysler, who sold it to the mystery donor, who in turn gave it to the university.

© 2011 AFP

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