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François Pinault

Pinault brings new life to Palazzo Grassi

French billionaire François Pinault finally reveals his art

London. François Pinault, the French owner of Christie’s and one of the world’s biggest collectors of contemporary art, inaugurates his new Venetian gallery at the Palazzo Grassi this month with a show of works drawn from his own collection.

Last May, Mr Pinault paid E29m ($35m) for an 80% stake in Palazzo Grassi after he abandoned plans to build a E150m ($191m) museum on the Ile Seguin in Paris. He blamed French bureaucracy for the delays in building the museum.

Mr Pinault’s collection is believed to be stored outside Europe and one advantage of the Venetian project is that he will avoid paying import tax if he only displays works at the Palazzo Grassi on a temporary basis.

The opening show, “Where Are We Going?” (30 April-1 October), will reveal some of the billionaire’s acquisitions. Over 200 works by 50 artists will be on view. The full extent of Mr Pinault’s collection is unknown.

Among the pieces selected by Alison M. Gingeras, an adjunct curator of the Guggenheim Museum in New York, are seven works by Damien Hirst and nine installations by Jeff Koons. Urs Fischer and Raymond Pettibon have created site-specific works while the mosaic of metal squares 37th Piece of Work (1969-81) by Carl Andre, for which Mr Pinault paid around $7m late last year, covers part of the building’s atrium.

The works are to be displayed in 40 galleries, refurbished over five months by the Japanese architect Tadao Ando who was to design Mr Pinault’s Paris museum. Mr Ando is a member of Palazzo Grassi’s “honorary committee” of patrons along with Muccia Prada, head of the Italian fashion house. The former French Minister of Culture Jean-Jacques Aillagon is the museum director.

The next show will be the touring exhibition “Picasso, the Joy of Life, 1945-48”, opening in November. Meanwhile, video and photographic works from Mr Pinault’s collection will go on show at an unconfirmed venue in France early next year.

Originally appeared in The Art Newspaper as ‘New life for Palazzo Grassi'