LISBON (AFP) - The Portuguese government said Tuesday it has decided to keep 85 works by famed Spanish artist Joan Miro in the country after an uproar over their proposed sale to foreign buyers.
The paintings, estimated to be worth around 35 million euros ($39 million), came under state ownership in 2008 when the government nationalized the failed bank BNP which had built up the Surrealist collection.
The former center-right government put them up for auction in London in 2014 to raise cash, but they were withdrawn after an outcry and a legal challenge from political opponents and activists.
Centre-left Prime Minister Antonio Costa announced Tuesday that the government had “finally decided to keep the famous collection of Miro works in the city of Porto.”
It is unclear if they will remain state-owned or be sold to private collectors, but a government official said any private buyer would have to accept keeping them in Porto.
The paintings will go on display for the first time next Saturday at the city’s Serralves museum in an exhibition that runs until Jan. 28.