Members of the Portuguese opposition appealed to a Lisbon court aiming to prevent the auction of 85 Joan Miro paintings which consist property of the State of Portugal since 2008. The auction of the works of the famous Spanish Catalan artist is to form part of Christie’s “The Art of the Surreal and Impressionist/Modern” sale (London, 4-5 February 2014).

The Miro collection became state property after the nationalization of the failed bank BNP. According to members of the Socialist party, which forms part of the Portugese opposition, the sale would be illegal since the government had violated rules on the classification of cultural assets while ignoring the collection’s “ immeasurable immaterial value”.

Their move followed several parliamentary motions by opposition parties. A public online petition calling for the collection to remain in Portugal was also issued and signed by nearly 9,000 people.

However, “despite the petition and motions against the sale, the government has decided to proceed, so now it becomes a court case,” said Luis Rego, spokesman for the Socialists in parliament. From their side, Christie’s stated that the sale remains scheduled for next week.

The combined estimated value of the paintings is more than $48 million, with the most highly valued work, “Femmes et oiseaux (Women and Birds)” (1968) being expected to fetch between $6.5 million and $11.2 million.

Portugal’s state culture secretariat had no immediate comment on the lawmakers’ move.