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Picasso’s grandson raffles off painting, at 100 euros a ticket, to save ancient city

December 4th, 2013
10:15 AM ET

By Mick Krever and Claire Calzonetti, CNN

Pablo Picasso’s grandson is raffling off a million-dollar painting for the cost of a 100 euro raffle ticket – and it’s all to save an ancient Phoenician city in Lebanon.

50,000 raffle tickets are up grabs for a chance to win “The Man with the Opera Hat,” a cubist work nearly 100 years old. All proceeds will go to finance two arts and cultural projects in the UNESCO World Heritage city.

CNN’s Christiane Amanpour spoke with Olivier Picasso – the painter’s grandson and the public face of the initiative – sitting in front of the small canvas.

“It's something that normally you find in a museum,” Picasso said. Sitting next to it, in person, not seeing it in a book, is a whole different ballgame, he said.

“When you are in contact with something that my grandfather, that Picasso, touched, it's really a different feeling.”

If the price of the auction tickets is unusual, so is the cause: The rescue of Tyre, a city devastated by decades of military conflict, including Lebanon’s 15-year-long civil war. More recently, it has seen an influx of refugees from neighboring Syria.

“You know, I'm French; I'm not primarily concerned by Lebanon or Tyre,” Picasso said. “But I understood the importance of this city.”

“It's always difficult to maintain an old, an ancient city,” he said – not only because of decaying architecture, but because Tyre is still active and lived in.

The cause is important not only to maintain the physical structures, but also “to preserve the traditions.”

The idea, Picasso explained, came from his friend, who was fed up with “boring” charity dinners – it was her who approached him about auctioning one of his grandfather’s works.

Olivier was too young to have met his grandfather, but with a name like “Picasso” the legacy is hard to escape.

“He was part of the family … part of my life, as a child, with paintings on the walls and drawings and photos.”

Because he never knew his grandfather, he explored his own truth over years, “like discovering that he had many women and discovering that he was supposed to be a Communist – but also a billionaire, that he was someone old and not cherishing his friends and family.”

One of those many women was Olivier’s own grandmother, Marie-Therese Walter.

Picasso’s portrait of Walter, "Le Reve,” set a record when it was sold earlier this year for $155 million.

Walter was 17 when she met Picasso, then 46, at the Galeries Lafayette in Paris.

“He told her, ‘Mademoiselle, I would like to make your portrait,’” Oliver said. “She said, "Mmm, you and I, we're going to make great things together.’”

“When he died, I realized later that my grandmother has lost a link to the exceptional life; she was now back to ordinary daily life. And four years later, she killed herself.”

Were any of Picasso’s artistic talents passed down to his grandson, Amanpour asked.

“I've tried, but it's easy to be a banker after a banker,” Oliver said. “But to be a Picasso after Picasso, it's really difficult.”

Filed under:  Christiane Amanpour • Latest Episode
soundoff (45 Responses)
  1. Name!

    Nice one there! My husband's a Picasso in the making in a little corner in the Lagos State of Nigeria! watch the space! lol

    December 4, 2013 at 11:43 am | Reply
  2. Erik Robinson

    The painting is worth 1million Dollars & the raffle generates 5 million... The Picasso money machine lives on!!!

    December 4, 2013 at 1:41 pm | Reply
    • Really Well

      Only if they manage to sell all 50,000 tickets....

      December 4, 2013 at 3:54 pm | Reply
      • Nassar Banu

        Oh? I think they will! I'm a ready buyer: of the raffle ticket! Not the Picasso! 😉

        December 4, 2013 at 10:52 pm |
  3. Bench racer

    Interesting that nowhere is it stated what currency the valuation of the painting is in. Hopefully not the currency of the city Tyre 😛

    December 4, 2013 at 5:35 pm | Reply
    • Erik Robinson

      In the video, Christiane asked him how much it's worth & Olivier said "one million Dollars"...

      December 5, 2013 at 3:09 am | Reply
    • Raymond Mouzannar


      December 6, 2013 at 12:57 am | Reply
  4. Maria Farita

    Why is CA such a moron? The dumbing down of the American mind continues ...
    The lovely man should have walked. She's incapable of discussing art.

    December 4, 2013 at 9:31 pm | Reply
    • willknutsen

      She does not claim to be an art expert. Her honesty was refreshing. She has a world famous TV show, and the charity got a lot of publicity from this. It was a fun show. Enjoy the moment. Cheers!

      December 5, 2013 at 5:45 am | Reply
  5. Nassar Banu

    Great episode! Very refreshing, indeed! Nice to meet a Picasso descendant and get some personal insights into the great artist: yes, he does look like Picasso! 🙂 That Picasso would be just perfect for my > 20yrs' vacant wall! 😉 Appreciate link to buy a raffle ticket! Thanks!

    December 4, 2013 at 10:35 pm | Reply
  6. lebanese citizen

    For the first time cnn posts a positive thing about Lebanon!I hope my post will not be deleted. Nice change!

    December 8, 2013 at 1:10 am | Reply
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    How can we buy a ticket, please?

    December 12, 2013 at 11:37 am | Reply
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