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Legal concerns foil Portugal's art sale ambitions

Tuesday - 2/4/2014, 1:40pm  ET

Associated Press

LISBON, Portugal (AP) -- Legal wrangles have thwarted debt-heavy Portugal's attempt to raise cash by auctioning a collection of works by Spanish artist Joan Miro.

The sale of 85 works by the surrealist master was one of the highlights of a two-day auction of Impressionist and modern art in London, beginning Tuesday.

But Christie's called off the sale a few hours before it was due to start, citing legal concerns.

Earlier in the day, a Lisbon judge denied a request from Portugal's main opposition Socialist Party for an injunction to stop the sale of the public property from a nationalized bank, which was expected to raise at least 36 million euros ($48 million).

But Christie's said in a statement the court challenge created "legal uncertainties" that could bring questions about future ownership rights.

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