A 25-year-old Pennsylvania man searching for artwork to decorate his home has won a million-dollar Pablo Picasso painting in an international charity raffle.
Jeffrey Gonano, a project manager at a fire sprinkler firm, was revealed as the winner of the cubist master's L'Homme au Gibus (Man with Opera Hat) in Paris on Wednesday. Sotheby's auction house estimated the work to be worth about $1 million US.
An anonymous donor had purchased the 1914 gouache work in New York and donated it to a charitable effort raising funds to preserve the ancient city of Tyre, a UNESCO heritage site, in Lebanon. Olivier Picasso was among those who helped publicize the raffle, saying that he believed his grandfather would have enjoyed the event.
The raffle was limited to 50,000 tickets, each sold for €100 (about $146 Cdn). Tickets went on sale in April.
"I saw a news article online and I just happened to be looking for a piece of art for my house and I thought this would be interesting so I just bought a ticket for it," Gonano told Agence France-Presse.
Organizers made the draw in Paris on Wednesday evening, noting that although Americans had been the largest group of participants, raffle tickets had also been purchased by art lovers in many different countries, including France, the U.K., Pakistan, Iran, Trinidad and Tobago, Iraq, Lebanon, Germany and the Wallis and Futuna Islands.
After drawing Gonano's ticket (#747815), staffers telephoned him to reveal his win.
"I didn't believe it," he said of the call. "I'm going to try and keep it but ... I probably wouldn't keep it at my house."
(Mobile users, click here for winner announcement video)