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State will not buy Essl paintings

The owner of Austria's largest private art collection will not be selling his 7000 paintings to the Austrian state after he withdrew his offer from the table during negotiations with government officials.

Founder and owner of bauMax DIY chain Karlheinz Essl, 74, had last week offered his art collection up for sale to both help protect 4000 jobs in his struggling company and to ensure the collection would not be seized by bank creditors and potentially separated.

A round table discussion between Essl, government officials and bank representatives went positively according to government spokespeople, although once all the options of a state purchase were explored, Essl decided to take his offer off the table.

Speaking after the meeting, Austrian culture minister Josef Ostermayer said that the discussions with three major creditor banks had left him feeling positive. "Everyone wants to work on a constructive solution for the company," he said. "The conversation makes me positive that there will be a good future."

BauMax is thought to be in debt to creditors but Essl had been hoping that together with support from the bank, the money raised from the sale of his art would help to restructure bauMax and save jobs.

A spokesperson for BauMax has denied the company is on the brink of insolvency but confirmed that they made a loss in 2012 and were given 78 million EUR by the bank in the same year.

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