Subasta de papeles de Vasari detenida

"David", de Michelangelo

Sale of Vasari´s papers suddenly stopped

A sale of the papers of Giorgio Vasari, thought of as the founder of European art history, was stopped at the last moment. They were being sold to pay tax debts, but the family said the price was too low.

Reporter: Duncan Kennedy

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Giorgio Vasari lived in the 16th century and was an acclaimed artist himself. But it was in chronicling the lives of other Renaissance artists that he earned his reputation as the founder of European art history. His most famous work, called Lives of the Most Excellent Painters, Sculptors and Architects, contains letters to and from Michaelangelo, local rulers and popes.

The papers were seized by Italy's tax authorities in lieu of unpaid debts by the Italian count who owned them. Some reports say he tried to sell them for $200 million to a Russian gas billionaire, who then apparently died. The count's family deny this. Now an auction to sell the papers for a starting price of three and a half million dollars has been stopped, because the family say that's too cheap. A judge in Tuscany will now decide if a higher price is more suitable. One expert has said the archive is worth more like $13 million.

The auction was stopped with just 15 minutes to spare, when lawyers for Vasari's heirs stepped in. The tax authorities said they had to accept the auctioneer's decision to halt the sale.

Whatever the final price and whoever buys them, there is one hitch: the papers are housed in Vasari's former home in Tuscany and cannot be moved, by order of the Italian Ministry of Culture.

Duncan Kennedy, BBC News, Rome

Listen to the words

an acclaimed artist un artista aclamado

chroniclingel escribir crónicas, el documentar

the founder ofel fundador de

in lieu of unpaid debts(las autoridades fiscales confiscaron los papeles) en compensación por las deudas

deny this desmintió

an auction una subasta

the archive(en este caso) la colección histórica

to sparefaltando (15 minutos para el comienzo de la subasta)

Vasari´s heirs stepped in(los abogados de) los herederos de Vasari interrumpieron

hitchproblema / dificultad