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Project manager with a fire sprinkler contracting company dines out to celebrate Picasso win
A picture taken on December 3, 2013 in New York, shows Olivier Picasso, Pablo Picasso’s grandson, posing with the painting entitled "L’Homme au Gibus" (Man with Opera Hat) before offering the work in a lottery to raise money to save the ancient and historical city of Tyre, Lebanon. A 25-year-old American, Jeffrey Gonano, won the lottery on December 2013. The UNESCO-registered charity has issued 50,000 tickets at 100 euros ($135) each for the first-of-its-kind tombola at Sotheby's in Paris, hoping to raise $5 millions. It wants the money to develop a traditional handicraft village giving young people, women and the disabled jobs in Tyre and to set up an institute for Phoenician studies in Beirut. AFP PHOTO / TIMOTHY CLARY.
NEW YORK (AFP).- The American who won a $1 million Picasso painting in an international raffle told AFP on Thursday that he celebrated with a dinner out on the town.

Jeffrey Gonano, 25, a project manager with a fire sprinkler contracting company in Pittsburgh, said he couldn't believe it when the organizers telephoned him Wednesday to say he had won.

"I saw a news article online and I just happened to be looking for a piece of art for my house and I thought this would be interesting so I just bought a ticket for it," he said.

The artist's grandson, Olivier Picasso, who helped drum up interest in the charity raffle, described the 1914 "Man in the Opera Hat" as a "masterpiece" of museum standard in perfect condition.

Gonano said he didn't know what to do with the picture, but that he wanted to keep it.

"I didn't believe it," he said of the phone call telling him he had won. "I really don't know. I'm going to try and keep it but... I probably wouldn't keep it at my house."

Asked how his friends and family had reacted to the news, he said they were pleased. "We went to dinner last night."

An anonymous donor bought the ganache from a gallery in New York and donated it for the raffle organized by a charity working to save the ancient city of Tyre in southern Lebanon.

The International Association to Save Tyre offered a maximum of 50,000 tickets at 100 euros ($135) each in the months leading up to the tombola in Paris on Wednesday.

© 1994-2013 Agence France-Presse

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