Almost there, as Galleries perfect £50m art of fundraising for Titian

AN AMBITIOUS fundraising campaign to save a masterpiece by Titian for the nation is on the brink of victory, The Scotsman has learned.

Almost all of the 50 million needed to buy the first of two works by the artist, Diana and Actaeon, is now in place, according to sources close to the National Galleries of Scotland.

With the credit crunch biting, there were fears the campaign would fail and the painting would leave the country. But, at a recent dinner for the patrons of the National Galleries, guests reported being told that there was just 2 million left to raise for one of the biggest funding drives ever seen for a work of art.

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And half a dozen people contacted yesterday in the Scottish art world are convinced the painting is in reach.

The NGS announced earlier this year it was aiming to buy Titian's Diana and Actaeon and Diana and Callisto, masterpieces that have hung in the galleries since the Second World War. They would be jointly purchased with the National Gallery in London. The Duke of Sutherland has offered them to the nation for 50 million each, far less than they could fetch on the open market.

A deal to buy Diana and Actaeon by 31 December would leave three more years to buy Diana and Callisto.

One source said: "I hear favourable noises from everywhere. The one thing is the dance about how anything is announced. They need private money from donors down in London, to pull some more in."

The Scottish Government has already pledged "significant funding" for the purchase. A major contribution from the UK government has been seen as vital to securing the cash.

The UK's Department of Culture, Media and Sport expects to make an announcement in about a week. There will be political jockeying between Edinburgh and London over who shows their hand first.

Last month the National Heritage Memorial Fund put 10 million towards the total – the heritage body's entire annual income. The independent art charity, the Art Fund, has pledged 1 million.

Outspoken artists including Tracey Emin, Damien Hirst, and Lucien Freud have petitioned 10 Downing Street. Officials wonder privately whether multi- millionaire artists such as Hirst have put money on the table.

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The fundraising drive was announced just before stock markets went into freefall. It has made seeking private donations particularly tough.

There are still hopes major donors could step in, with some eyes on Mark Getty, chairman of the National Gallery in London.

He and his father, the late John Paul Getty II, have made huge gifts to the National Gallery.

However, the Galleries' director general, John Leighton, insisted yesterday it would be premature to say the money was "in the bag". He said a lot could happen between now and the 31 December deadline.