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'Incredible' - Italian woman wins $1.8m Picasso painting in charity raffle

An Italian accountant whose son bought her the raffle ticket as a Christmas present won a Pablo Picasso oil painting valued at NZ$1.78 million in a charity draw today.

Raffle organisers Peri Cochin, left, and Arabenne Reille unbox the painting "Nature morte" by Picasso at Christie's auction house. Source: Associated Press

Claudia Borgogno summed up her amazement in one word: “Incredible.”

“I have never won anything before," the 58-year-old told The Associated Press from her home in Ventimiglia, northern Italy. She said she likes Picasso, and the prospect of being able to hang one of the 20th Century master's paintings on her wall was still sinking in.

Her son, Lorenzo Naso, bought two tickets in December, sending one to his mother.

“It was maybe the best decision in my life," he told AP.

The ticket was picked out in an electronic draw at the auction house Christie’s in Paris.

Organisers valued the painting, “Nature Morte,” or Still Life, as being worth NZ$1.78 million. The billionaire art collector who provided it, David Nahmad, said the work is worth “at least two, three times” that.

“Claudia has won this extraordinary painting tonight that is worth one million and so is a millionaire,” organiser Peri Cochin announced after Borgogno's name and winning ticket number were displayed on a screen.

The 51,140 tickets sold online for NZ$178.70 each. Proceeds are going to provide water for villagers in Madagascar and Cameroon.

The draw was originally scheduled for March but delayed by the coronavirus pandemic. Naso told AP that he hadn't realised it was taking place today and wasn't watching the live broadcast.

The call from organisers to say that his mother had won came as shock.

She didn’t believe it.

“When I arrived and I told her she has won she was like, ‘Please don’t joke,’” he said. “She is not going to sleep tonight.”

The painting "Nature morte" by Picasso hangs on a wall at Christie's auction house. Source: Associated Press

Naso, an analyst for the European Union's securities markets regulator, lives in Paris but has been staying with his mother in Italy during the coronavirus lockdown.

“It was a pretty awful period for us during this lockdown and now it’s great news,” he said.

Nahmad will be paid NZ$1.6 million for the work. The painting was the smallest of 300 works by Picasso that he owns, the largest private collection of works by the Spanish artist.

The small still life, which is signed “Picasso,” shows a newspaper and a glass of absinthe on a wood table. Picasso painted it in 1921.

Tickets were bought in more than 100 countries, with the bulk sold in France, the United States, Switzerland and Italy.

The winner of a similar raffle in 2013 was a 25-year-old fire sprinkler worker from Pennsylvania.