Miró collection “saved from auctioneer’s hammer”

Following the massive hue and cry over what was dubbed “the worst deal in the world”, Portugal’s Socialist government has decided that the stunning Miró collection should remain in public ownership.

Prime minister António Costa told parliament this week that the 85-piece trove is going to be kept in Porto, and most of it will go on exhibition this weekend, courtesy of the Serralves Foundation.

The fate of the collection turned into a national controversy in February 2014 after the PSD-led government announced its sale through Christie’s in London.

The government said it hoped to raise at least €35 million to help clean Portugal’s balance sheet and meet the terms of a bailout agreed to with international creditors.

But the auction was cancelled amid legal action and fierce protests led by opposition politicians (click here).

Museum directors and other culture officials also argued that such a collection formed part of the nation’s artistic heritage and could not be sold overseas.

The reason for critics dubbing the sale “the worst deal in the world” came from the fact that it had originally cost well over €82.5 million to buy, so selling it off in a flurry at a considerable loss could actually ruin the market for Mirós in the future.

The collection became state property after the government took control of Banco Português de Negócios. BPN had purchased the artwork from a private Japanese collection before the 2008 crisis.

Pronouncing themselves “delighted” to be chosen to show the paintings, Serralves’ Foundation organisers said they hope the exhibition, entitled Joan Miró: Materiality and Metamorphosis’, “will contribute to a greater awareness and appreciation” of the Spanish artist’s work.

The show runs until January, and includes the mediums of drawing, painting, collage and work in tapestry.