Salvador Dalí’s surrealist object the ‘lobster telephone’ will remain in the UK after a Scottish bidder won the work at a recent art auction. 

The work, created in 1936 for surrealist art collector and English poet Edward James, was sold for an eye-watering £853,000 to the National Galleries of Scotland (NGS).

The news comes after a foreign bidder, who originally won the item during an auction at Christies, was denied when ministers placed an export bar on the art after it was deemed too culturally import to leave the country. 

Now, the work will go on display at the Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art after they raised the funds. 

“This major acquisition cements our position as one of the world’s greatest collections of surrealist art … Before this acquisition we had nothing of this kind,” said Simon Groom, NSG’s director of modern and contemporary art, in a statement. 

The Edward James Foundation put the item up for sale expecting to earn anywhere between £150,000 and £250,000 but saw their estimations blown out of the water by a considerable margin. 

While NGS raised £100,000 to win the item, the significant backing of the Henry and Sula Walton Fund sealed the deal as they gave the remaining £753,000.

“Dalí’s lobster telephone is amongst the most famous of all surrealist objects, typifying the spirit of the movement in its witty, subversive eccentricity,” said Stephen Deuchar, the director of the Art Fund after they purchased the work. 

[MORE] – Rare never-before-seen photographs of Salvador Dali and Picasso


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