Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

Pick a Picasso, help ancient city, too

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For most people, owning one of Pablo Picasso's drawings is as distant a dream as winning the Powerball jackpot. But statisticians should take note: The odds of winning last month's Powerball payout were 1 in 175.2 million. Winning a Picasso drawing? This year, the odds are set at 1 in 50,000.

The International Association to Save Tyre, established to protect the UNESCO World Heritage site on the southern coast of Lebanon, is raffling off Picasso's 1914 cubist drawing L'homme au Gibus (Man With Opera Hat) to raise money for research and projects at the protected ancient city. At the raffle's website, 1 Picasso for 100 Euros, the association is selling 100-euro (about $133) tickets, capping the lottery at 50,000 tickets. The lottery is authorized by Sotheby's and the Picasso Administration in France. The association launched the raffle in March and is promoting it in Washington.

Although less-expensive Picasso drawings have popped up at charity raffles before, this is the first time the French government has authorized an international raffle online. The organization purchased the drawing from a gallery in New York. Maha Chalabi, president and founder of the association, says the signed drawing is valued at $1 million and certified as an authentic work by the Picasso Administration. Sotheby's will host the drawing Dec. 18 in Paris.

The proceeds of the lottery go to two projects in Tyre, relating to preservation of ancient Phoenician culture. During the Lebanese civil war of the '70s and '80s, the archeological remains at Tyre were badly damaged and construction went unregulated, leading to urban sprawl on the ancient site. Chalabi said she hopes the raffle will raise awareness of Tyre's history.

-- Washington Post

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition June 15, 2013 D7

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