LISBON, April 3 (Xinhua) -- An Angolan millionaire has offered the Portuguese government a proposal to buy the country's Joan Miro art collection for 44 million euros (60 million U.S. dollars).
The businessman, Rui Costa Reis, intends to exhibit the work by the Catalan artist in Porto, North Portugal, for at least 50 years, according to local media reports on Thursday.
The Portuguese government recently decided to auction its 85 works by the surrealist artist in an attempt to cut its debt, as part of efforts to meet the terms of the 78-billion-euro bailout program with the troika comprising the European Union, the International Monetary Fund and the European Central Bank.
The Miro works, which have never been shown in Lisbon, were nationalized in 2008 when bank Banco Portugues de Negocios became bankrupt, and are worth around 49 million U.S. dollars in total.
But the sale in London in February was cancelled after outcry in Portugal, with the opposition saying that the export of the paintings was illegal.
Auctioneer Christie's pulled the works out of its auction, just hours before the sale.
A Portuguese court had previously rejected an injunction by the country's opposition, but Christie's said in a statement that "legal uncertainties" meant that they were "not able to safely offer the works for sale."
The collection was described by Christie's in a statement as "one of the most extensive and impressive offerings of works by the artist ever to come to auction."
The collection includes Women and Birds, one of Miro's most notable works, valued by Christie's at between 4.9 million and 8.5 million euros.
Critics say the artworks are an important part of the country's cultural heritage, and that a sale abroad would block Portuguese access to the art collection.
An online petition by Portuguese artists and citizens collected over 9,000 signatures.
However, president of state holding company Parvalorem, which is in charge of selling the paintings, denied claims that the sale was illegal and the artworks have been shipped back to London. An auction is expected to take place at Christie's in June.