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One of five rare Serge Gainsbourg paintings worth €30,000 to be auctioned in Paris

'Enfants au Square' (Children at the park) by French music composer Serge Gainsbourg
'Enfants au Square' (Children at the park) by French music composer Serge Gainsbourg   -   Copyright  BERTRAND GUAY/AFP
By Shannon McDonagh  with AFP

An extremely rare oil on canvas by Serge Gainsbourg, who reluctantly abandoned painting for music, will be auctioned in Paris on November 19 by Crait+Müller.

Valued between €30,000 - €50,000, the painting, which represents Gainsbourg as a child and his sister, was gifted in 1959 to the late singer Juliette Gréco by the artist himself.

The auction is part of a wider sale of trinkets, furniture, works of art, crockery, and jewellery owned by Greco, who passed away at the age 93.

It's an especially unusual sale piece given Gainsbourg's history with fine art. Just five of his paintings are still in circulation – including this particular piece, titled 'Children in the square'.

Gainsbourg was once a budding artist

Joel Robine/AFP
Portrait of Serge Gainsbourg taken March 1988, during a rehearsal at the Zénith in ParisJoel Robine/AFP

Before his decades crafting over 500 songs as one of Europe's most bountiful composers, Gainsbourg studied at Beaux-Arts and was a member of the Académie de Montmartre.

In 1954, aged 26, he abandoned his artistic pursuits, going so far as to destroy the majority of his paintings.

'Children in the square' was offered to Greco, with whom he collaborated with on 'La Javanaise', after the composer confided that "painting is (his) only true love".

"Serge came to my house and said: 'I burned everything, destroyed everything, I'll give you this. It's the only one left," Greco once explained in an interview.

"It's a very touching canvas. I love this painting. It was above my bed but I take it around the house. It's more than a painting, it's a part of it. to me. It would hurt me if it were to disappear."

In 2015, Juliette Gréco appealed to AFP after the disappearance of this painting from her home. It reappeared shortly afterwards, presumably stolen by a loved one.

A wider dispersal of Greco's memories

This week, some 750 items of Juliette Greco's will be auctioned by the Parisian auction house Crait+Müller with estimates for smaller items considerably lower than 'Children in the square', starting at €30.

The entire auction has been coordinated by Julie-Amour Rossini, granddaughter of the singer.

Among the most unusual pieces, there is a Van Cleef & Arpels directory with the telephone numbers of many celebrities from the Saint-Germain-des-Prés years, written by the singer.

A painting by Foujita, 'La Petite Gréco au chat', could sell for up to €80,000.

All the items will be on display for free from November 17-19 at the Hotel Drouot in Paris.