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PICASSO

Paris: Picasso museum becoming a ‘fiasco’

The son of Spanish painter Pablo Picasso has hit out at the French government after the culture minister put back the opening of the Picasso museum in Paris until September. Claude Picasso said he was "scandalised" and accused the French government of not caring.

Paris: Picasso museum becoming a 'fiasco'
Claude Picasso, the son of Spanish painter Pablo, is not happy with France's ministry of culture. Photo: Sebastien Bozon/AFP

Five years after it closed for a two-year renovation, Paris's Picasso museum – which houses one of the world's most extensive collections of the Spanish master's work – will finally reopen its doors in September, the culture ministry announced Sunday. It had intially been due to open in June.

The delay has caused controversy, with the painter's son Claude Picasso on Friday accusing the French government of indifference and saying he was "scandalised and very worried" about the future of the museum.

"This opening was supposed to be a great party. They are turning it into a fiasco," he told Le Figaro.

"The truth is that there is positively no desire to open the museum. I am being taken for a ride. I get the impression that France is making a mockery of my father and of me," he said.

Claude Picasso was called to the French prime minister's office on Monday where he was presumably offered an apology and an explanation for the postponement.

He asked the government to do its best to ensure that the establishment reopens in June, as announced earlier this year by the gallery's president Anne Baldassari.

Jean-Francois Bodin, the architect in charge of the renovation, had said on Saturday that the museum could still be reopened at the end of June as scheduled.

Culture Minister Aurelie Filipetti said in a statement that her ministry had decided to reopen the museum to the public in mid-September because the main renovations were only completed on April 30 and time was needed to finish the rest.

She made an appeal "for everyone to overcome personal interests and show enthusiasm and calm to allow the project to be completed".

The final bill for the refurbishment of the 17th-century baroque mansion in Paris's historic Marais quarter now stands at €52 million ($71 million), €22 million higher the original budget due to changes in the scope of the work.

The museum's exhibition space will be more than doubled to 40,000 square feet (3,800 square metres) after the renovation.

Although the musuem has around 5,000 paintings, drawings, sculptures, ceramics, photographs and documents, previously only a fraction could be displayed at any one time due to limited space.

There will also be a corresponding rise in the number of visitors that can be admitted at once from 380 to 650, and annual admission figures are expected to jump from 450,000 to 850,000

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MUSEE D'ORSAY

Picasso’s $115-million ‘Young Girl’ to be loaned to Paris museum

Picasso's "Young Girl With Basket of Flowers," recently sold at a New York auction for $115 million, will be loaned to Paris's Musee d'Orsay for a Picasso exhibit opening in September.

Picasso's $115-million 'Young Girl' to be loaned to Paris museum
"Young Girl With Basket of Flowers" by Pablo Picasso on display during a Christie's preview. Photo: AFP

“We're very happy,” a museum spokesperson said Saturday in confirming the loan, first reported in The New York Times.

The painting was purchased at auction Tuesday by the Nahmads, a family of art dealers and collectors that includes Helly Nahmad, owner of a New York gallery, according to two sources quoted by the Times. Nahmad did not respond to an AFP request, through his gallery, for comment.

The Musee d'Orsay's “Picasso: Blue and Rose” exhibit is being organized in collaboration with the Picasso Museum-Paris and will focus on the artist's work from 1900-1906, encompassing his critically important Blue Period and Rose Period. It will run from September 18th to January 6th, 2019.

The exhibit will then move to the Beyeler Foundation near Basel, Switzerland, from February 3rd to May 26th, with a modified set of paintings. It is not clear whether the “Young Girl” will be part of that show.

The painting, from 1905, was part of a major auction by Christie's of the extensive collection of the late US banker David Rockefeller and his wife Peggy.

“Young Girl,” which the American collector Gertrude Stein and her brother Leo had purchased directly from the artist, was sold for the sixth-highest sum ever attained by a painting at auction, expenses and commissions included.

Four paintings by Picasso (1881-1973) have now been sold for more than $100 million each. No other painter has seen more than one piece of art reach that rarefied level.

Rockefeller, who died last year aged 101, was a grandson of oil magnate John D. Rockefeller. “Young Girl” was a centrepiece of his vast trove of artworks.

The Christie's sale brought in a total of $832 million, pulverizing the record for a single collection sale set in 2009, when the works of designer Yves Saint Laurent and his longtime partner Pierre Berge netted $484 million.

READ ALSO: Picasso's French Riviera mansion set to sell for 'bargain' €20 million

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