A painting by Pablo Picasso valued at £1m has been won by an American in an online charity raffle at Sotheby’s. 25 year old Jeffrey Gonano, said, “I was looking for a picture to hang on his wall when he read an article about the painting being raffled by Sotheby’s in Paris”. L’Homme au Gibus (Man with Opera Hat) had been purchased by a charity working to save the ancient Phoenician city of Tyre, in southern Lebanon, a Unesco world heritage site that was severely damaged during the Lebanese civil war in the 1970s and 1980s . The oganisation issued 50,000 tickets at 100 euros each, hoping to raise $5m. Mr Gonano’s winning ticket was picked by a computer system on Wednesday.
“I was looking for art and I thought I might as well,” said Mr Gonano, a project manager at a fire sprinkler firm in Pennsylvania. Despite the enormous value of his new acquisition, he says he will not sell the artwork, at least for the time being. The charity working to save the ancient Lebanese city of Tyre said buyers from all over the world had taken part in the raffle, with a large number from the US. The 1914 artwork had been purchased from a New York gallery by the Unesco-registered charity the International Association to Save Tyre with the help of a large bank loan. Raffle organisers say they paid slightly less for the work than the $1m estimate given by Sotheby’s experts.
Picasso’s grandson, Olivier Picasso, was among those drumming up interest in the tickets. He said his grandfather would have approved of his work being put to good use. “My grandfather was a pioneer in everything, in his love life, in his artwork, so tonight I’m sure he would have helped the cause,” he said. Picasso, 52, a French TV producer who also works for the Picasso family foundation, said the estate was waiving its Droit de Suite fees for the sale of this painting.