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François Pinault

Seen at ArtBasel: François Pinault

The French billionaire is the new owner of the Palazzo Grassi

French billionaire François Pinault was spotted racing around ArtBasel yesterday morning as dealers set up their stands. The ever-energetic Mr Pinault was accompanied by French dealer Philippe Ségalot.

Mr Pinault’s recent announcement that he has abandoned plans to establish a museum for his contemporary art collection on the Ile Séguin in Paris and has instead bought the Palazzo Grassi in Venice, has angered some of his fellow Frenchmen.

Speaking to The Art Newspaper at the Venice Biennale, Jérôme Sans, co-director of the Palais de Tokyo in Paris, said: “For a start, nobody really knows what was going into Mr Pinault’s museum. The contents of his collection are unknown to most people bar a couple of dealers, Marc Blondeau and Philippe Ségalot. The whole episode was a little like someone saying yes, ‘I’ll marry you’ for years, and then at the last minute leaving the bride at the altar.”

Writing in Le Monde last month, Mr Pinault explained that it was the endless bureaucratic delays that finally persuaded him to abandon the project.