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April 14, 2016 8:00 pm

EXCLUSIVE: Dalí’s Original Iconic ‘Aliyah’ Painting to Go Under the Hammer, Expected to Fetch $500,000

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Salvador Dalí’s original "Aliyah" photo, pictured here, is up for auction in May. Photo: Sotheby's.

Salvador Dalí’s original “Aliyah”, pictured here, will be up for auction in May. Photo: Sotheby’s.

The original “Aliyah” painting by prominent surrealist Salvador Dalí will be going up for auction in New York in May, The Algemeiner has learned.

Jonathan Levine, the painting’s owner, has contracted auction house Sotheby’s to handle the sale. Levine told The Algemeiner that he bought the painting at a New Jersey estate sale last year, and is now parting with it to support his growing family.

“When I was offered to purchase the painting, I looked at it and immediately had an ‘ah-ha’ moment. I thought the piece spoke to my feelings about Israel and Judaism and how Israel is and has been a savior to so many people,” he said. “Unfortunately, I am not in a position to keep such a valuable and priceless piece. I hope the painting, which is very sentimental for me, lands in the right hands, to someone who will keep it safe long-term.”

Levine told The Algemeiner the starting bid for the piece is $180,000 and has been appraised at nearly half a million dollars. A member of the Young Jewish Funders of Arizona charity organization, Levine hopes to donate 10 percent of the proceeds from the sale to international Jewish causes.

Molly Ott Ambler, Head of Days Sales of Impressionist & Modern Art at Sotheby’s, told The Algemeiner: “We are honored to feature this impassioned, emotive painting. The last time a major work from this series was sold at auction was at Sotheby’s in 2012, when ‘Victory: A Song of Thanksgiving’ soared to $314,000 — over five times its high estimate of $60,000. Having never before appeared at auction and in impeccable condition, ‘Aliyah’ will be offered at Sotheby’s on May 10 with an estimate range of $180,000 to $250,000.”

“Aliyah” is the central painting in Dalí’s “Aliyah, The Rebirth of Israel” series. As previously reported by The Algemeiner, the little-known Zionist series is made up of 25 mixed-media paintings highlighting the religious, historic and political connections between Israel and the Jewish people. The paintings were commissioned by Shorewood Publishers in 1967 and were eventually sold to private collectors. The locations of each of the remaining 24 original paintings are for the most part unknown.

“When I was researching the piece, I spent a lot of time looking at all 25 of the paintings. The detail, power, emotion and spirituality Dalí put into each piece really brings up memories of Jewish history that were so important in my upbringing, spirituality and faith,” Levine said. “I think Dalí really believed in the power of Israel and what it means and has meant over time to the Jewish people.”

Jonathan Levine's young son Jacob with the 'Aliyah' painting. Photo: Courtesy.

Jonathan Levine’s young son Jacob with the ‘Aliyah’ painting. Photo: Courtesy.

Levine privately displayed “Aliyah” in his home, and said the painting has come to mean a lot to him and his family. “If you look at the picture, you see a strong, powerful man looking up at the sky. It’s as if he’s saying, ‘Thank you, Israel, for being there for me, my family and future,’” Levine said. In a photo shared with The Algemeiner, Levine’s young son is seen mirroring the “Aliyah” painting. “This photo is really an incredible moment for me. It’s as if the man in the painting is saying the world is his and the world is my son’s,” Levine said.

Levine believes “Aliyah” is the most “powerful” piece of the entire series. “I was raised speaking about the importance of Israel, talking about the Holocaust and what could have happened if there had been an Israel. Dalí’s series is really the story of the Jewish people and how we can’t take Israel for granted,” Levine said. “Each painting in the collection has its own theme but when I look into the eyes of the man in the ‘Aliyah’ painting, I just see a savior, a man running from some persecution and Israel is there to protect him.”

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