140 'Lost' Masterworks to Hit Sotheby's Auction

Paris art dealer's collection hidden since 1939
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted Apr 23, 2010 2:42 AM CDT
140 'Lost' Masterworks to Hit Sotheby's Auction
Arbres a Collioure is one of the finest works by Andre Derain ever to be sold at auction, art experts say.   (Sotheby's)

A stash of 20th-century artworks hidden for generations because of war and legal wrangling is finally seeing the light of day. The 140 artworks, including works by Picasso, Derain, and Renoir, had been placed in a Paris bank vault by influential art dealer Ambroise Vollard's assistant after Vollard's death in 1939. The Jewish assistant died at the hands of the Nazis and the stash wasn't uncovered until the bank unsealed the vault in 1979 after storage fees went unpaid for 40 years.

Legal battles between the estates of Vollard and the assistant kept the works under wraps until recently. An exec at Sotheby's auction house, which will be selling the collection off later this year, says seeing the array of works is like looking into a "lost world." The gem of the collection, André Derain's Arbres á Collioure—described as "a knock-you-off-your-seat explosion of color" by the Guardian—is expected to fetch up to $26 million. (More art stories.)

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