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Guggenheim versus Pinault over prime city site

Who will lease the Punta della Dogana?

London

The Guggenheim Foundation Collection in Venice has entered the competition to lease the 17th-century Punta della Dogana.

The museum has hired Iraqi architect Zaha Hadid to design a proposal for a contemporary art gallery in the former customs house located on the point between the Giudecca island and the Grand Canal.

The Guggenheim Foundation has been in discussion since 1988 with the local authorities to convert the Punta della Dogana into its second museum in the city but so far these talks have come to nothing.

However, these negotiations prompted the city of Venice to acquire the lease of the Punta della Dogana which is owned by the Italian government. The city has now announced a competition to share the lease of the building.

The move pits the Guggenheim against François Pinault, the French owner of Christie’s, who abandoned plans to establish a contemporary art museum in Paris and instead bought an 80% share in the Palazzo Grassi on the Grand Canal last year, to house a portion of his collection of contemporary art. Mr Pinault’s plan to lease the Punta della Dogana is backed by the mayor of Venice, Massimo Cacciari. Japanese architect Tadao Ando, who designed Mr Pinault’s planned museum on the Ile Seguin in Paris, has been approached again to design the proposed new gallery.

A decision on the competition will be made early this month by a committee headed by the art critic Achille Bonito Oliva.