In a move that has provoked controversy, the Fondation Beyeler in Riehen, Switzerland is planning to sell four paintings by Jean Dubuffet gifted to the private museum by the French art collector Micheline Renard, wife of the late automotive executive Claude-Louis Renard, in 2013.
The Renards, who amassed a vast collection of modern art, had a longstanding relationship with the museum’s founders, a Basel-born bookseller turned dealer, Ernst Beyeler and his wife, Hildy. The four Dubuffet paintings were part of a group of 33 works that Micheline gifted the museum. Also given to the Fondation Beyeler were works by Jean-Michel Basquiat, Sam Francis, and Sigmar Polke. The trove was exhibited at the museum in 2014.
The donor’s daughter, Delphine Renard, decried the Fondation Beyeler’s plans to deaccession the works. Renard told Le Journal des Arts that she was “extremely disappointed by what appears to me to be a misuse of my parents’ intentions,” adding, “If they had simply wanted to support the foundation financially, they would have sold the paintings and given a check.”
In a statement to Artnet News, a spokesperson for the Fondation Beyeler board said the museum is acting within its rights to sell the paintings. Micheline was aware of such a prospect when the collection was gifted, the spokesperson said, and the Dubuffet works were selected because the artist is widely represented throughout the museum’s holdings.
A date has yet to be set for when the sale of the Dubuffet works will take place, and details about where and how the works would be sold were not released by the museum. The Fondation Beyeler has also not yet provided a reason why the works were being sold. Proceeds will go to the museum’s funding for acquisitions.
ARTnews has reached out to the Fondation Beyeler for comment.