April 3, 2006

Portugal to create museum of 20th century art

By Ian Simpson

LISBON (Reuters) - Portugal will create a major museum of
20th century art after the government signed a deal with a
tycoon on Monday to allow works by artists such as Pablo
Picasso, Andy Warhol and Salvador Dali to go on display.

The agreement between the Socialist government and
self-made tycoon Joe Berardo will allow Portugal's biggest
collection of modern and contemporary art, almost 900 works in
all, to go on display at the Belem Cultural Center in the
suburbs of Lisbon.

Works by Jeff Koons, Joan Miro and Francis Bacon will also
be among those on show in what the government says will be one
of the world's finest collections of modern art because it will
include pieces from all the period's main movements.

"If we don't plant seeds to get great things, we won't even
get little things. I'd like to make this one of the great
museums of the world," Berardo said at the signing ceremony
attended by Prime Minister Jose Socrates.

Culture Minister Isabel Pires de Lima said the new museum,
set to open by the end of the year, was a big step for the
promotion of high-end tourism in Portugal.

The accord follows a decade of stop-start talks between
Berardo and Portugal over housing his collection, now scattered
across various sites in Portugal. Some of it is in storage.

Berardo threatened last year to move it to France. News
reports had said Italy and Miami also had offered display

The collection groups about 4,000 pieces but much is coins,
porcelain, books and other items not from the 20th century.

Under the 10-year accord, the government will have first
right to buy the collection. Berardo and Portugal also will
each contribute 500,000 euros a year for new pieces.

The Madeira-born Berardo started out selling fruit in South
Africa and made a fortune in mining. He has stakes in
manufacturing, vineyards, hotels and banking.