With typical style and aplomb, the French have sidestepped the charity ball as a way to raise money for charitable concerns and instead taken the humble tombola and elevated it to something extraordinary. “1 Picasso for 100 Euros” is a world first in which each of the participants (50,000 maximum) is given the chance to win the Spanish artist’s 1914 work L’Homme au Gibus (Man with Opera Hat). This gouache drawing of the cubist period is estimated at $1m in value. Two members of the family, Maya and Claude-Ruiz Picasso, have attested to the painting’s authenticity.
The tombola has been set up to raise funds for AIST, the International Association to Save Tyre, the ancient Phoenician metropolis of Lebanon, which is now a Unesco World Heritage Site. Among AIST’s aims are the creation of an institute for Canaanite, Phoenician and Punic studies based in Beirut, and also the building of a traditional handicraft village – a way of generating jobs while also preventing the loss of age-old craft skills and techniques.
Olivier Picasso, the artist’s grandson, is sure he would have approved of his work being used in this way. “Everything innovative would interest him. Pablo Picasso was a pioneer and I think he would have been amused to be involved in such an operation.”
So far the tombola, which launched this summer, has indeed proved enormously popular, but happily there are still tickets to be had – and you can buy as many as you choose. The draw will take place on Wednesday December 18 at the Paris branch of Sotheby’s (the official partner of the initiative) and will be broadcast live on the internet. Hurry to buy your ticket while you still can…