Alitalia-owned art work to go under the hammer

Sun Jan 11, 2009 1:13pm EST
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ROME (Reuters) - Italian carrier Alitalia will auction 163 works of art including some by prominent modern painters that were shown in its aircraft during its 1960s heyday, its bankruptcy administrator said on Sunday.

"At the outset, Alitalia would display works of art to show beautiful things to its passengers," Augusto Fantozzi told Italian television. "There are a number of paintings by important artists that will now be sold at auction."

He did not say how much the art work was expected to fetch or if the paintings had been valued yet.

The paintings were usually small so as to fit inside fuselages, and included some by famous Italian artists such as Renato Guttuso and Futurist painter Giacomo Balla, La Repubblica daily reported last year.

The Italian national airline, which began flying in 1947 and became a proud symbol of Italy's economic prowess in the post-war period, has since fallen on hard times.

Alitalia filed for bankruptcy in August after years of losses due to strikes and inefficiencies. A group of Italian investors bought its best bits and is relaunching the carrier, while its remaining assets are being liquidated.

(Writing by Deepa Babington; Editing by Katie Nguyen)