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Webber sharing his art treasures with the public

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So far, only Andrew Lloyd Webber's houseguests have had a chance to enjoy them, but now the composer's art treasures, including works by Canaletto and Picasso, are being shown to a wider audience.

Around 300 works from Lloyd Webber's country home Sydmonton, west of London, will go on display today at the Royal Academy of Arts in London for three months.

The 58-year-old fell in love with Victorian and Pre-Raphaelite art while still a teenager and has been collecting ever since. He expanded his horizons to take in works from later periods, including an outstanding set of oils by the British artist Stanley Spencer.

Lloyd Webber said Tuesday he can't put a value on the paintings in the exhibit. But Picasso's portrait of a male friend, entitled "Angel Fernandez de Soto," alone is reported to be worth around $29 million.

The composer made his fortune from stage hits including "Cats," "The Phantom of the Opera" and "Evita."

"I write because I love it and I have been very lucky to have been able to indulge my hobby collecting art," he told reporters Tuesday.

Besides the paintings, there are also books and tapestries from Edward Burne-Jones, William Morris and other designers.

Lloyd Webber stepped in with his exhibition after plans for another display fell through.

The composer wants his collection to go on permanent display after his death. But he said, "I'm not going to leave it to the nation — it'd go to a museum where they never hang half the stuff and it will go into a basement somewhere. I want my own gallery where it is available for everyone to come and see it."