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Friday 25 July 2014

Spare €100? How about a raffle ticket for a Picasso worth $1 million

Stumped for a Christmas present? Sotheby's holds first-of-its-kind tombola where entrants can buy a raffle ticket for 100 euros for the chance to win Picasso's 'Man in the Opera Hat'

Published 04/12/2013|13:32

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The money raised from the raffle of L'Homme au Gibus (or Man in the Opera Hat) by Pablo Picasso will go to help rebuild Tyre in Lebanon Photo

A Picasso gouache valued at $1 million will go to the lucky winner of a Christmas charity raffle with tickets for the first ever such tombola on sale for just €100.

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The perfectly preserved Cubist work was bought by an anonymous donor from a New York gallery and given to a charity working to save the ancient city of Tyre in southern Lebanon.

Some 50,000 tickets at €100 each are on sale at 1picasso100euros.com for the unprecedented tombola on December 18 at Sotheby's in Paris, with the UNESCO-registered charity hoping to raise €3.6m.

With all but 10,000 of the tickets already sold, Olivier Picasso, Pablo's grandson, said he fully supported the venture.

"Buy a ticket and enjoy a double pleasure," Mr Olivier, whose grandmother Marie-Therese Walter was Picasso's mistress, told AFP.

"The first one will be to help a really interesting project and the second one is, hey, maybe to get a Picasso on your wall."

He described the signed "L'Homme au Gibus" or "Man in the Opera Hat," painted in 1914, as a "masterpiece" of museum standard in perfect condition.

Although Olivier never met his grandfather, he has penned books about the life of the great artist and is convinced that Picasso would have approved of the pre-Christmas tombola.

"In many ways he was excited about exploration, so for sure being the first one to be in a raffle would be exciting but more seriously he was really concerned by other people's problems.

"In the '50s for example he was receiving something like 100 requests per day for money, for participations, for a gift and I've been told most of the requests were answered," he said.

This is the first time that a work from an art master of this caliber has ever been raffled, according to the International Association to Save Tyre (AIST).

It wants the money to develop a traditional handicraft village giving young people, women and the disabled jobs in Tyre and to set up an institute for Phoenician studies in Beirut.

The website functions in Arabic, English, French and Russian to widen the net of potential buyers.

"Your chances of winning that Picasso are a lot higher than if it was a lottery of New York where you have open-ended tickets," Mr Reem Chalabi, AIST project coordinator, told AFP.

"Who can get a Picasso usually or a piece of art? Not a lot of people at that value. So we have seen a lot of people buying three and four and five tickets."

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