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Nearly £45 million-worth of art has been left to the nation in the last year, including masterpieces by Van Gogh, Van Dyck and Constable, and the personal collection of Lucien Freud.

A report published by Arts Council England revealed the details of 27 gifts offered by private owners to the British public collections, with a total value of £44.3 million.

The sum is double the value of artworks offered to the nation a decade ago, and is the result of the Acceptance in Lieu scheme which allows owners to use important artworks to pay inheritance tax.

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More than 40 paintings, drawings and birthday cards by Frank Auerbach, all of them owned by his friend and admirer Lucian Freud, have gone on public display as a group before they are dispersed to collections around the UK.

In May it was announced that Freud's estate had offered the 15 oil paintings and 29 works on paper by Auerbach, one of Britain's greatest living artists, to the government in lieu of around £16m of inheritance tax.

Because the bequest is so large and valuable it is being split up with museums and galleries now bidding for different works and groupings of works. Before that happens all the works are being displayed together at Tate Britain.

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Four Romanians behind a spectacular art heist in the Netherlands were ordered Monday to pay 18 million euros, with the fate of the stolen masterpieces by Picasso, Monet, Gauguin and Lucien Freud still a mystery.

Seven paintings that were temporarily on display at the Kunsthal Museum in Rotterdam were stolen in 2012 in a raid that lasted only three minutes, in what the Dutch media called "the theft of the century."

A court in the Romanian capital ordered the heist's mastermind Radu Dogaru, his mother Olga, Eugen Darie and Adrian Procop to reimburse the paintings' insurers.

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Experts investigating the catastrophic art heist that rattled the Netherlands in October 2013 have found the burned remains of at least three oil paintings in a home belonging to the mother of one of the chief suspects. Olga Dogaru, who had previously admitted to burning the works and then withdrew her claim, originally said that she incinerated the canvases – two Monets and one Picasso – in an attempt to protect her son.

Investigators found traces of three or four paintings in ashes taken from a wood-burning stove along with nails and tacks. Ernest Oberlaender-Tarnoveanu, head of Romania’s National History Museum, which analyzed the contents of the stove, said, “The number and the type of nails we found (in the ashes) indicate that we have at least three paintings there. There are also tacks that could belong to a fourth one.” While investigators did find the remains of burned oil paintings, it is yet to be determined whether or not they are the same works that were stolen from the Kunsthal Museum.

Dogaru, her son, Radu, and four other Romanians will go on trial on Tuesday, August 13, 2013 in Bucharest. The thieves made off with Pablo Picasso’s Tete d’Arlequin, Claude Monet’s Waterloo Bridge, London and Charing Cross Bridge, London, Henri Matisse’s La Liseuse en Blanc et Jaune, Paul Gauguin’s Femme devant une fenetre ouverte, dite la Fiancee, Meyer de Haan’s Autoportrait, and Lucian Freud’s Woman with Eyes Closed. The works were on loan from the Triton Foundation to celebrate the Kunsthal Museum’s 20th anniversary.

Four of the stolen works were oil paintings and three – including Pablo Picasso’s Tete d’Arlequin and Claude Monet’s Waterloo Bridge – were either pastel or colored ink on paper and would be impossible to identify if burned.

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Olga Dogaru, a Romanian woman who told investigators that she burned seven modern art masterpieces to protect her son, denied her claim in court on Monday, July 22, 2013. Dogaru’s son, Radu, was one of six suspects involved in the Kunsthal Museum heist, the biggest art-related robbery to take place in the Netherlands in years.

During the hearing, Dogaru alleged that she “made up” the story about incinerating $130 million worth of art in a desperate attempt to guard her son, who had admitted to stealing the paintings last October. If she is found guilty of “destruction with very serious consequences” Dogaru could serve up to 30 to years in prison under Romanian law. Last week, news circulated that forensic investigators had found trace evidence in the ash in Dogaru’s stove.

The heist took place on October 16, 2013 and proceeded to shake the art world. The six suspects made off with Pablo Picasso’s Tete d’Arlequin, Claude Monet’s Waterloo Bridge, London and Charing Cross Bridge, London, Henri Matisse’s La Liseuse en Blanc et Jaune, Paul Gauguin’s Femme devant une fenetre ouverte, dite la Fiancee, Meyer de Haan’s Autoportrait, and Lucian Freud’s Woman with Eyes Closed in less than 90 seconds. The works were on loan from the Triton Foundation to celebrate the Kunsthal Museum’s 20th anniversary.

The suspects will stand trial next month.    

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Edgar Degas’ (1834-1917) La Masseuse (The Masseuse), which was once owned by the German-born British painter Lucien Freud (1922-2011), has been given to the Walker Art Gallery as part of the British government’s Acceptance in Lieu (AiL) of law. The AiL is a provision under which inheritance tax debts can be written off in exchange for the acquisition of objects of national importance.

The Degas sculpture was one of three works by Degas bequeathed to England following Freud’s death. The Walker Art Gallery, which is located in Liverpool and houses one of the largest art collections in England outside of London, was granted the sculpture after a competitive process with other UK museums and galleries. La Masseuse, Degas’ only two-figure sculpture, will join the artist’s painting Woman Ironing at the Walker.

Xanthe Brooke, Curator of European Art at the Walker Art Gallery, said, ‘We’re very grateful to Arts Council England for allocating the sculpture to the Walker Art Gallery, where it will be appreciated by an enthusiastic and diverse audience.”

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For the first time, two unique groups of photographs by Cecil Beaton and David Dawson of leading British artist Lucian Freud will be exhibited at Sotheby's. Spanning different periods of the artist’s life, these intimate photographs are a testament to the unique access Beaton and Dawson were given to Freud’s inner life. Leading society portraitist Beaton was drawn to Freud when he described him ‘as a true artist and a true Bohemian’ and his photographs from the 1950’s capture Freud alone, with friends, with family and with his second wife Caroline Blackwood at their Dorset retreat, Coombe Priory.

Dawson’s photographs, taken whilst he was Freud’s studio assistant between 1999 and 2011 reveal an extraordinary insight into the artist’s life. They uncover like never before an overview of the artist’s spiritual and intellectual requirements: his love of animals, his family, his devotion to the Old Masters, and his close coterie of friends and contacts. The recent triumphant retrospective exhibition of Freud’s paintings at the National Portrait Gallery which now moves to Fort Worth, gave a valuable insight into Freud’s working methods and his sitters. Now, the lens turns to the artist himself and reveals a life every bit as tantalising as those of his models. An Artist’s Life: Photographs of Lucian Freud by Cecil Beaton and David Dawson offers a unique opportunity to view a selection of many never previously exhibited images of one of the world’s greatest artists. Focussed through the lens of Beaton in the 1950s and Dawson from 2003, these photographs link the very inauguration and culmination of Freud’s extraordinary career.

Exhibition in London: Tuesday 10 July - Saturday 11 August 2012
Open 10 AM - 5 PM Monday to Saturday. Closed Sundays

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Lucian Freud, the British painter of regular people in all their fleshy glory who stayed loyal to portraiture and realism even when modern art veered toward the abstract, has died. He was 88.

Freud died July 20 at his home in London after a brief illness, said William Acquavella, owner of Acquavella Galleries in New York, which is Freud’s worldwide dealer. “He lived to paint and painted until the day he died, far removed from the noise of the art world,” Acquavella said yesterday in a statement.

A grandson of Sigmund Freud, the founder of psychoanalysis, Freud preferred to use friends and family members, including his mother, as subjects of his portraits, using thick gobs of paint to reveal the human body’s curves, folds and imperfections. (He preferred the term “naked” rather than “nude.”) His paintings were the product of profound observation of human beings and fastidious self-criticism, and he graduated to larger and larger canvases starting in the 1980s.

“I paint people not because of what they are like, not exactly in spite of what they are like, but how they happen to be,” he said.

Bloomberg News critic Jorg von Uthmann, in a review of a 2010 show at the Centre Pompidou in Paris, called Freud’s work “unashamedly traditional, stubbornly figurative and realistic to the point of being brutal.”

Queen’s Portrait

Born in Germany, Freud moved to the U.K. at 11 and later became a naturalized citizen. His longtime studio was at a home in the London neighborhood of Holland Park. In 2000 and 2001, Queen Elizabeth II sat for a portrait that provided fodder for Freud’s fans and critics alike. He painted model Kate Moss in 2002, while she was pregnant.

Freud generally needed as much as a year’s worth of regular sittings to complete a portrait.

In 2008, “Benefits Supervisor Sleeping,” his portrait of a 280-pound civil servant named Sue, sold for $33.6 million (20.6 million pounds) -- the highest price ever for a work by a living artist -- in an auction at Christie’s International in New York. The purchase, later reported to be by Russian billionaire Roman Abramovich, culminated a surge of interest in Freud’s work.

The 1998 sale in London of his “Naked Portrait with Reflection” for 2.8 million pounds ($4.6 million) set a record for the most expensive contemporary work sold in Europe. The portrait, from 1980, depicts a voluptuous woman reclining on a sofa in the nude. It was sold again in 2008, for 11.8 million pounds.

‘Woman Smiling’

Also in 1998, his “Large Interior W11,” which shows two of his children and three friends in a rundown London interior, sold for $5.8 million.

His work continued to draw high prices. In February 2010, at Sotheby’s in London, a 1978 Freud self-portrait showing him with a black eye after a fight with a London taxi driver sold for 2.8 million pounds. At a June 2011 auction at Christie’s in London, “Woman Smiling,” a 1958-1959 Freud portrait of his lover, Suzy Boyt, sold for 4.7 million pounds.

Though he lived simply, his artwork made him a wealthy man, and he had a well-known taste for gambling. The Times of London, on its 2011 list of the U.K.’s richest, estimated Freud’s net worth to be 125 million pounds.

The art critic Robert Hughes, writing in Time magazine in 1993, called Freud “the best realist painter alive.”

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