Georgina Adam for the Art Newspaper - 04/04/2007
ABU DHABI. The global art market will receive a phenomenal boost after the signing last month of a $1.3 billion deal between Abu Dhabi and the Louvre museum which will see the French institution “franchised” in the emirate.
As part of the 30-year agreement, the Abu Dhabi authorities will spend at least €40m ($48m) a year for the next decade, to build a national collection for display in the Louvre Abu Dhabi, scheduled to open in 2012 in a building designed by Jean Nouvel.
For its first ten years, the new museum will display loans from the Louvre as well as from other French museums including the Centre Pompidou, Versailles, the Musée d’Orsay and the Musée du Quai Branly (through the International Agency of French Museums which is to be set up to administer the scheme). As well as paying the Louvre $520m for the use of its name, Abu Dhabi will pay $747m for loans, temporary shows and for management advice. All of the money, which will not be taxed in France, will go to French museums, said culture minister Renaud Donnedieu de Vabres. The funds will be paid over 20 years with an initial payment of $180m this month.
The deal is thought to include provisions for France to immediately withdraw its loans from Abu Dhabi in the face of an actual or perceived threat such as a terrorist attack.
Buying for the national collection will start next year. Sheikh Sultan Al Nahyan, chairman of the emirate’s tourism authority, told us that Abu Dhabi will be, “acquiring things that make sense for us, after technical scrutiny by the Louvre. There is no clear-cut budget but it will be about €40m a year, however, if we want we can spend more than this,” he said.
But Vincent Pomarède, chief paintings curator at the Louvre, said that his museum would not advise Abu Dhabi on acquisitions. “However the International Agency will help establish a general acquisitions strategy, and it will train the curators who will be responsible for acquisitions. It might also ask an outside person to advise once acquisitions have started,” he said.
Antiquities, Islamic arts, paintings and sculpture, decorative objects and contemporary art are all on Abu Dhabi’s shopping list.
The Louvre’s move to the Gulf follows the Guggenheim’s decision to open an outpost in Abu Dhabi by 2015 in a building designed by Frank Gehry. No details of the acquisition budget are available.