Lloyd Webber gives away £33m

Composer joins the new breed of philanthropists by selling his Picasso for arts charity
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The Independent Online

Andrew Lloyd Webber has bolstered his reputation for philanthropy after offering up a famous portrait by Picasso for sale, to raise more than £30m for his arts charity.

The Picasso, a painting from the Spaniard's Blue Period showing his friend, the artist Angel Fernandez de Soto, is being sold at Christie's in New York in November.

The work is expected to fetch at least £33m for Lord Lloyd-Webber's art foundation - a sale that adds further to the composer's reputation as a millionaire philanthropist.

He hinted as much, in a wry aside about the £17bn donation to the war on Aids and poverty last week by the US investor Warren Buffett. "The sale may not be a Warren Buffett, but hopefully it will be a mini-Buffett," he said.

Major collectors will hope it is just the start of Lord Lloyd-Webber's latest bout of largesse. The composer of hit musicals such as Cats, Evita and Phantom of the Opera owns a collection of pre-Raphaelite paintings and other great masters - works that would fetch high sums if sold.

However, it is understood that he has no plans to sell parts of his private collection. But his foundation also owns a Canaletto, bought by Lord Lloyd-Webber for £10m in 1992, a drawing by Dante Gabriel Rossetti, and a painting by Sir John William Waterhouse, which cost him £6.6m in 2000. The sale of these paintings has not been ruled out.

Lord Lloyd-Webber originally paid about £19m for the Picasso at auction in New York in May 1995 - then the highest price paid for a painting in auction for five years.

However, earlier this year, an unnamed Russian paid £52m for a portrait by Picasso of his mistress, Dora Maar, at Sotheby's in New York.