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François Pinault

Pinault to open new space next to Palazzo Grassi

His third Venetian building will house films, debates and performances

Venice. The French billionaire François Pinault is expanding his empire in Venice with plans to open an auditorium next to his gallery at the Palazzo Grassi in time for the 2013 Venice ­Biennale. The Art Newspaper understands that the 230-seat venue, known as the Teatrino, due to open in June 2013, will be mainly used to hold conferences with artists, for film screenings and debates. Meanwhile, Agence France-Presse ­reports that the building’s atrium may be used to stage performance art.

In 2005 Pinault bought an 80% share in the Palazzo Grassi in Venice to display part of his contemporary art collection, acquiring the Teatrino space at the same time. In 2007, the luxury goods magnate fight off competition from the Guggenheim to secure a second venue in the city, the Punta della Dogana Customs House.

When asked by our sister paper Le Journal des Arts why he had taken seven years to renovate the Teatrino, he said: “The [global economic crisis] took hold. We had to spread out the [refurbishment] work.”

The Japanese architect Tadao Andao, who revamped the Palazzo Grassi and the Punta della Dogana, will also oversee the new project.