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U.k 'S Loss, L.a.'s Gain : Drive To Keep Artwork In Scotland Falls Short

December 24, 1985|DAVID CROOK | Times Staff Writer

The National Gallery of Scotland has failed to block the controversial $10.5-million sale of an Italian Renaissance masterpiece painting to the J. Paul Getty Museum.

It was unclear Monday, however, when the Malibu museum will take possession of Andrea Mantegna's "The Adoration of the Magi," which the museum bought in April for the record-setting price.

A Getty spokesman said museum officials familiar with the transaction were away for the holidays and unavailable for comment.

The seller of the masterpiece oil and tempura painting was Spencer D.D. Compton, the Marquess of Northampton in England.

Under a British law intended to stem the flow of artworks from the country, Scotland's National Gallery was allowed to try to raise funds to match the Getty's bid. According to the ARTnewsletter, an art market trade journal, the National Gallery was able to raise only about $6.3 million by the Dec. 11 deadline set by the government. The painting, one of the last Mantegnas in private hands, was made around 1495 to 1505.

Last year, the Getty lost a $2.4-million Crucifixion by the 14th-Century Sienese master Duccio when the Manchester Gallery successfully raised the money to keep it in Great Britain. Among major contributors to that effort was John Paul Getty II, the estranged son of the late founder of the Malibu museum.

Earlier this year, the younger Getty made a $62.5-million grant to London's National Gallery. The money is to be used to purchase works of art.

Concern has mounted in Britain over escalating prices in the international art market and the impact of the Getty Museum's aggressive acquisitions of European art since 1981, when the estate of the late billionaire was settled.

In the last two years, the country has lost artworks by Rubens, Raphael, Rembrandt, Van Dyke and other masters to the Malibu museum.

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