Auction house Christie's on Tuesday said it had cancelled the London sale of 85 paintings by Spanish master Joan Miro valued at more than 36 million euros over a legal dispute in Portugal.
"The sale of the collection of 85 works by Joan Miro has been cancelled as a result of a dispute before the Portuguese court, to which Christie's is not a party," the auction house said in a statement, hours before the first of the paintings were due to go under the hammer.
Earlier on Tuesday a Portuguese court had cleared the paintings for auction, despite demands from Portugal's opposition Socialist party for the sale to be suspended.
The paintings became Portuguese state property following the nationalisation of the BPN bank in 2008 and their sale has been met with fierce opposition by art lovers in Portugal.
But the cash-strapped Portuguese government has argued that the sale of the paintings would bring a much-needed injection of funds.
Christie's has described the paintings as one of the largest and most impressive Miro collections ever put on sale.
It includes one of Miro's most notable works, Women and Birds, which Christie's has valued at between £4 million and £7 million ($11.4 million, 8.4 million euros).
They formed part of a major auction at Christie's on Tuesday and Wednesday which also features works by Picasso, Mondrian and Monet, and had been expected to fetch more than $300 million.