A few days before the beginning of 2018, a scandal hit the City of Paris. The Pinault Museum, eponymous collection of the billionaire who founded Kering, acquired the Bourse de Commerce of Paris located in the Halles neighborhood for 15 cents. Indeed, after a long lasting renovation, the City of Paris proposed the Museum an emphyteutic lease with specific payment requirements. Desipite the controversy, the museum will open as planned in 2020.
A historical building at the core of a fast changing district
The Bourse de Commerce of Paris was built in 1885 in the former Palais Brongniart. It was the architect Henri Blondel who was in charge of the construction and who modified the dome made of glass and cast iron, while rehabilitating the whole building. Indeed, the 19th century rotunda is located at the core of the Parisian district of the Halles, a fast changing area with the recent opening of the partly underground shopping mall. The former Bourse de Commerce was acquired by the Chamber of commerce and industry of Paris (CCI) in 1949. On April 27th, 2016, François Pinault, the billionaire who founded Artémis holding and Kering Group, and the City of Paris publically jointly announced the upcoming transfer of a part of François Pinault’s Art collection to the former Bourse de Commerce of Paris. It is through the Pinault foundation that the collections will be presented and dealt with.
A significant controversy
On December 27th 2017, the journal Le Canard enchaîné, published an article that contained revelations focusing on François Pinault and the City of Paris. In fact, according to the journal, the project “must have already cost at least 63 million more than it should have to the City of Paris”. All in all, the buyout of the building owned by the Chamber of Commerce and Industry cost 86 million Euros. However, the Canard enchaîné stated that the City of Paris could have bought it for 15 cents? Indeed, the City of Paris committed to getting back the ownership of the building to concede for 50 years to the Pinault Foundation, with an annual usage fee as compensation. As a result, by the end of lease, the City of Paris would get the building back. The Pinault Foundation would have financed the construction and the renovation entrusted to Japanese architect Tadao Ando. Nevertheless, the weekly newspaper found a clause in the original 1949 contract stipulating that the Chamber should have been given to the City of Paris for a symbolic Franc. The City of Paris reacted right away by stating that it was impossible to reacquire the building for the same price as the one that was set after the War. All in all, the total amount spent is 86 million Euros which includes 65 million dollars buy out and some 23 million Euros as compensation to the Chamber of Commerce and Industry.
The 2020 opening maintained
Despite the press earthquake, the Pinault Museum will indeed open in 2020. As a result, the foundation’s goal is to offer “a multidisciplinary program with several experiences combining Fine Arts, music, theatre, literature and cinema.” At least, that is what François Pinault told Le Monde in 2016 when he was referring to Martin Bethenod who currently is the head of the Venetian Foundation as the curator of the Parisian foundation. On the occasion of the 2017 Nuit Blanche, two contemporary Art videos were presented at the Saint Eustache church as its neighbor’s future collection taste. Artists Lutz Bacher and Anri Sala presented videos entitled “Please” and “Uomoduomo”. Art-Trope shared it with its followers. The ending process of the press turmoil reinforces the pressure on the program of the future institution. In addition, its strategic location a few steps away from the Pompidou Center is a significant burning cultural issue for the City of Paris. The conditions of the emphyteutic lease conceded to François Pinault remain unclear. The opening, on the other hand, is crystal clear.
Read our article about Gaël Charbau, the 2018 Nuit Blanche’s new curator here.