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23.4.05

François Pinault to Go to Venice?

Newspaper Articles:

Richard Heuzé, François Pinault, sa tentation de Venise (Le Figaro, April 16)

Vincent Noce, Ile Séguin: le projet Pinault prend l'eau (Libération, April 18)

Jon Henley, Art museum falls foul of red tape (The Guardian, April 19)

Emmanuel de Roux, Boulogne craint que la Fondation Pinault ne préfère Venise à l'île Seguin (Le Monde, April 20)

Emmanuel de Roux, L'aboutissement d'un dialogue de sourds (Le Monde, April 20)
The news all over the French dailies this week has been the rumors (now apparently confirmed) that French billionaire François Pinault will change his plans to build a new museum to house his collection of modern art (New Private Collector Museum, June 20, 2004). Instead of renovating an abandoned Renault factory on the Île Seguin, outside Paris, it appears that he will try to buy and occupy the recently vacated Palazzo Grassi, on the Grand Canal in Venice. The palace was built in the 18th century, and the Agnelli family made it into an exhibition space, sponsored by Fiat, in 1984. A proposed sale has fallen through, and through a series of contacts involving Jean-Jacques Aillagon, Pinault's company may acquire it. Well, they would in effect lease the property for a period of 99 years, after which the museum would revert to the ownership of the city of Venice. The details of the occupancy are complicated, but there is little doubt that Boulogne-Billancourt, where Pinault planned to build a new museum, is about to lose out in a big way (as reported in The Guardian):
One of France's richest men is on the brink of ditching plans to build a spectacular contemporary art museum outside Paris because he is fed up with the red tape and inertia of the local authorities. "It's unbelievable," one of Mr Pinault's aides, who asked not to be named, said yesterday. "You offer these guys an exceptional art collection, you put up £150m for a museum to rival the Guggenheim in Bilbao or the Saatchi in London, and no one does a thing about it."
The Venice space would be much smaller than what was being planned for the Île Seguin, but Pinault could launch his first show by next year. Is Peggy Guggenheim going to have some company in Venice?

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