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Portugal to create museum of 20th century art

Written by: Staff

LISBON, Apr 3 (Reuters) Portugal will create a major museum of 20th century art after the government signed a deal with a tycoon 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 Centre 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 sites.

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.

Reuters SHR BD0915

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