Britain’s Royal Opera House to sell David Hockney painting to raise funds

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Britain’s Royal Opera House plans to sell a portrait by David Hockney in a bid to raise funds, as it suffers from the financial fallout of the coronavirus pandemic.

The iconic London institution said the sale of the painting of its former chief David Webster at auction later this month was “a vital part of (our) strategy for recovery.”

It is expected to fetch between £11 million ($14 million, 12 million euros) and £18 million, according to the Observer newspaper.

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“The proceeds will be used to ensure that the world’s greatest artists can once more return to our stages,” said Chief Executive Alex Beard.

The Royal Opera House closed its Covent Garden doors in late March as Britain went into a months-long nationwide lockdown as COVID-19 spread across the country.

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It reopened in June without live audiences and by streaming performances online as part of a four-pronged recovery plan which includes redundancies and other cost-cutting.

It has also launched a fundraising campaign among audiences and supporters “to sustain our community of artists.”

But income has fallen by more than half since the pandemic began and been described by Beard as “the biggest crisis in our history.”

The painting by Britain’s Hockney depicts Webster, who ran the opera house from 1945 to 1970, and was commissioned for the Covent Garden building in the 1970s.

It will go under the hammer at Christie’s auction house on October 22.

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