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Kiwi financier given extra time to purchase Picasso estate

Rayo Withanage has been given an extra two months to raise funds for the historic property. Copyright Rolf LiffersPablo Picasso’s former home in the village of Mougins may have a new owner: New Zealand financier Rayo Withanage. After displaying an interest in the 800-square metre villa, which was the home of the most famous artist of the 20th century until his death in 1973, earlier this year, Withanage was reportedly unable to raise the funds for the property. He has now been given two extra months to find the cash in order to complete the sale.  

Of Sri Lankan and Portuguese descent, Withanage reportedly bid 20.1 million euros for the historic estate back in June. He has since been unable to get together the money to purchase the property and it was put back up for auction – unsuccessfully – on Thursday 12th October. According to various media sources, a local judge in the Alpes-Maritimes has now given him an additional two months to source the funds.

The last owner of Mas de Notre-Dame de Vie was a Dutch investor, who bought it from Catherine Hutin-Blay, the daughter of Picasso’s wife at the time of his death, Jacqueline Roque-Picasso.

The property was built during the 18th century and was purchased by Picasso, who lived out his final years there until his death in the early 70s, in 1961. Sadly, barely any traces of the great maestro remain bar a few paint splatters in his former studio, which is the only part of the property to remain in its original Picasso-era form.

Withanage is believed to have grown up between New Zealand, Bermuda and Brunei. He has a reputation has a powerful financier in Asia and the Middle East, having graduated from the University of Auckland and the London School of Economics.

A representative for the Dutch bank selling the estate, Achmea Bank, has reportedly said that they have been in discussions with Withanage for over a year, adding: “Let's hope he gets over the finishing line.”