Owner retrieves famed "Guernica" tapestry on loan to UN headquarters

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UNITED NATIONS, Feb. 26 (Xinhua) -- The famed tapestry of Pablo Picasso's 1937 anti-war painting "Guernica" is now missing from its prominent site outside the UN Security Council, as its owner has asked for it back, a UN spokesman said Friday.

"Nelson Rockefeller, Jr., who owns the tapestry, recently notified us of his intention to retrieve it," said Stephane Dujarric, the chief spokesman for UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres. "The tapestry was returned to Rockefeller earlier this month."

The "Guernica" tapestry had been offered on loan to the United Nations by the late Nelson Rockefeller in 1984. It had been outside of the Security Council since 1985.

"Guernica is a timeless, universal symbol, vilifying the implacable and criminal destruction of war, and opening artistic debate on the representation of armed conflict," the UN Arts Committee said. The original Picasso grey, white and black "Guernica" painting, unveiled in 1937, is on display at the Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofia in Madrid.

The tapestry was commissioned in 1955 by the owner's father, Nelson Rockefeller, the committee said on its website. He was a former U.S. vice president under President Gerald Ford and a governor of New York State.

It was woven by Atelier de la Baume-Durrbach, in the Department of Var in Southern France, under the artist's supervision.

"We of course thank the Rockefeller family for having loaned this powerful and iconic work of art to the United Nations for so long," Dujarric told a regular press briefing. "On a personal note, I think like all of you, I feel a little sad and a sense of loss looking at the empty wall that was recently graced by the tapestry."

The approximately 3-by-7-meter artwork had been hung at what is known as the Security Council Stakeout outside the council chambers.

"The tapestry was not only a moving reminder of the horrors of war but, because of where it stood, it was also a witness to so much history that unfolded outside of the Security Council since 1985, standing side by side with generations of journalists reporting world-changing events that took place at the stakeout," he said.

"I can tell you that the secretary-general and others tried very hard to keep the tapestry here, but we were not successful," Dujarric said. There were exchanges of letters and telephone calls between the Rockefeller family and senior UN officials before returning "Guernica" to its owner.

The UN Arts Committee will review art options for display in the place of "Guernica", he said. Enditem

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