Crete to bid for Greco painting

Hoping to double the number of paintings by Crete’s most famous artist on display on his native island, Iraklion officials have launched an appeal to raise the price of a small Theotocopoulos work to be auctioned in London next week. Yiannis Kourakis, mayor of Crete’s largest town, said the Iraklion Municipal Council wanted to buy the 16th century artist’s «Baptism of Christ» in the December 8 sale by Christie’s auction house, according to a report in yesterday’s Ethnos daily. The estimated price for the paperback-sized oil painting is 400,000-600,000 pounds (577,000-866,000 euros). «It is very important for Crete and the Cretans to acquire this work,» Kourakis said. The only painting by Domenikos Theotocopoulos, or El Greco (1541-1614), on the island is «View of Mount Sinai and the Monastery,» a 1570 oil and tempera on wood owned by the Historical Museum of Crete in Iraklion. The painting was bought at a private London auction 14 years ago. The «Baptism of Christ» was found in a brown envelope during a routine valuation in Spain last year.