PARIS—François Pinault, the French business-man and art collector who owns Christie’s International, formally announced, on May 9, that he has decided not to continue with plans for a contemporary art foundation on the outskirts of Paris. Instead the French billionaire will exhibit part of his collection of more than 2,500 works at Palazzo Grassi, an 18th-century Venetian palace he purchased in April for about €29 million ($37.9 million).
The palace, which borders the Grand Canal, was formerly owned by Fiat, and has been the site of a number of temporary exhibitions. Pinault hopes to expand on the palazzo’s temporary exhibitions “by creating a wider opening to contemporary and 20th-century art,” a spokesperson reports. “This initiative will also enable Mr. Pinault to present his own collection to the public.”
The announcement follows months of speculation and news reports that Pinault, increasingly frustrated over development delays, was set to abandon his proposed foundation in France (see ANL, 4/26/05).
States Pinault: “Under these conditions I have made the decision, with a feeling of intense disappointment and sadness, not to undertake construction of Tadao Ando’s project on the Île Seguin. In 2000 I indicated that I wanted to inaugurate the museum in 2005. But 2005 is already here, and the building process could start only at the end of this year, at best, added to which development of the site is still dogged by sizable uncertainties.”
For his part, the mayor of Boulogne-Billancourt, Jean-Pierre Fourcade, claims that talk about red tape amounted to “false allegations” and that any delay in decision-making about the site was made in good faith. He says that Pinault was in a big hurry and calls him a “businessman unfamiliar with the weight of administrative procedures.”
Fourcade confirmed again the legitimacy of the government’s taking the necessary amount of time to prepare such a project; he also expressed “deep regret” regarding Pinault’s decision. In the French press Pinault’s change of venue has been referred to as “a fiasco.”