The Museum-Off Between Two French Billionaires Has Only Just Begun

Evidently little has occurred within the uppermost reaches of French vogue and philanthropy in latest many years that has not indirectly concerned both Bernard Arnault, 72, or François Pinault, 85, the mega-collectors and billionaire patresfamilias of, respectively, the LVMH and Kering luxurious conglomerates. The 2 have been locking horns on probably the most gilded arenas for years, most famously in 2001 when Pinault’s PPR (now referred to as Kering) boxed out Arnault in the acquisition battle for Gucci, helmed then by Tom Ford. The jousting continued for many years, culminating in probably the most highbrow-excellent ego contest in human historical past, whereby the 2 billionaires donated a whole bunch of tens of millions of euros in type to rebuild Notre Dame. For these protecting rating: The Arnault household gave $218 million, whereas Pinault (together with son François-Henri, who took over the day-to-day of the household enterprise in 2003) donated $109 million.

However competitors over vogue homes and charitable giving has paled compared to the showdown between their two personal museums. Mr. Arnault (everybody calls him “Mister Ar-noh”) opened the Louis Vuitton Basis within the forested space of the Bois de Boulogne in 2014, its construction dreamed up by Frank Gehry—a shimmering pile of what seem like silver eggshell items delicately positioned upon each other. It was closed to the general public throughout the pandemic and reopened simply weeks in the past with “The Morozov Assortment,” a present of Impressionist masterpieces from the gathering of two brothers that had been dispersed by a century of warfare and revolution, solely to be put collectively by Arnault (with a little help from Vladimir Putin).

Then, final Might, Mr. Pinault (everybody calls him “Mister Pee-no”) opened his personal personal museum, the Bourse de Commerce within the central neighborhood of Les Halles, in a former hub for Parisian grain commerce, after a unprecedented $170 million renovation by Tadao Ando. And whereas Mr. Pinault’s museum won’t at present have a trove of Matisse and Picasso reunited for the primary time in a century, it has on show the masterpieces from his assortment, together with a set of some 30 seminal works by David Hammons, probably the most complete present of the artist’s work ever staged in Europe.

Every establishment is a recreation changer of an addition to the Twenty first-century French cultural panorama in its personal proper, however attributable to some quirks of timing and a world pandemic, they’ve solely been open to the general public concurrently for just a few weeks. The arrival in Paris this week of Foire Internationale de l’Artwork Contemporain (in any other case referred to as FIAC) allowed for the gallery class to take them each in collectively and replace the psychological rating card.

“You already know, it’s fairly superb and attention-grabbing that two of the largest collectors within the artwork world are each French, and each care deeply and keenly about artwork—but additionally their metropolis, to construct museums right here,” mentioned Jennifer Flay, who’s been the director of FIAC since 2010. “And I feel that’s a good looking message. It’s a outstanding phenomenon that brings lots of people who love artwork to the town.”

Flay was sitting in an workplace carved into the warren of rooms hidden inside the center of FIAC, which was staged this yr not at its ordinary digs within the light-strewn Grand Palais however quite within the Grand Palais Éphémère, a brand new house constructed to accommodate exhibitions whereas the 1897 iron and glass construction on the Champs-Élysées will get a much-needed face-lift forward of the 2024 Olympics. Flay appeared upbeat, noting that exhibitors have been eminently happy with the brand new setup, which trades the grandeur of the outdated house for a extra typical artwork honest setup with navigable aisles.

Evidently, it labored: Collectors did purchase on the honest, stopping by the Hauser & Wirth sales space to snap up new work by George Rental and Rashid Johnson for $1.55 million and $850,000, respectively. Maybe the largest sale of Wednesday, the honest’s first day, was Robert Rauschenberg’s Star Grass (1963), which bought for $2.8 million on the Thaddaeus Ropac sales space.

Nevertheless it was additionally clear that, after the insanity of Frieze London and Artwork Basel simply weeks earlier than, there was a little bit of honest fatigue happening by the point the proceedings have been getting underway this yr in Paris.

“I’m a bit of upset, after the vibrancy of Frieze, with gross sales at FIAC. Paris is such an excellent metropolis for a good, however FIAC has tended to underperform for us in contrast with different main festivals,” David Zwirner mentioned in an announcement that was blasted out to press mid-afternoon on the primary day of the honest.

Much more cause to thank God (or the continued dedication of the luxury-buying public), then, for the personal museums—even when, when reached on the cellphone, Louis Vuitton Basis director Suzanne Pagé sought to tell apart her establishment from the vagaries of the honest circuit. Relatively, she mentioned, it leans into hearty programming constructed on cautious accumulating.

“The choice of Mr. Arnault has an excellent affect on an artist,” Pagé mentioned. “We’re a museum, a museum within the sense that the work that we purchase, we by no means promote. We don’t promote, so what we wish is to be formidable and shifting, and solely have a cultural affect.”

A extra cynical ear might need heard in that response a bit of little bit of a knock on Mr. Pinault, who has been identified to promote work via that little public sale home he purchased in 1998 via his Group Artémis, Christie’s. In 2016, for instance, Pinault was the consignor of Adrian Ghenie’s Nickelodeon (2008), which quadrupled high estimates when it bought for about $8.4 million.

She burdened that Mr. Arnault loves staging historic surveys and buying works by the main modern voices. When requested what she considered the Bourse, Pagé responded diplomatically, “I feel it’s superb! We simply have a distinct have a look at the artwork.” | The Museum-Off Between Two French Billionaires Has Solely Simply Begun


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