UK's National Gallery holds remodeling, puts money in 'fighting fund' to keep paintings

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The National Gallery has shelved plans for a major refurbishment because of fears that a number of works it holds on loan are to be sold on the open market.

Instead of improving the lower galleries, trustees have decided to boost a fighting fund that will be used should any of up 40 famous paintings lent to the gallery be removed and put up for sale.

The collection, estimated to be worth up to £1 billion, is vulnerable because a number of private owners, who were previously happy to lend works, want to take advantage of the buoyant art market.

The Earl of Halifax has already removed Titian's A Portrait of a Young Man, lent to the gallery 14 years ago, and sources fear that the Duke of Rutland is considering taking back five works by Poussin, the 17th-century French artist, which have been with the National Gallery since 2002.

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