No new museum for Paris - thank the French government


Franis Pinault is a billionaire art lover, one of the richest men in France. He had wanted to build a private $195 million art museum on an island in the Seine River, to display some of his vast collection of modern art. But he has given—up on his plan, despite having commissioned world famous Japanese architect Tadao Ando to design the structure. Instead, he will send his collection to a restored palazzo in Venice.

The reason Paris loses out is the obstructionism of government officials in Boulogne—Billancourt, the local government where his museum was to be located. Pinault wrote an article in Le Monde, stating:

"Eternity is for art, not for projects that aim to serve it...."

The site on which the museum was to be built, Île Seguin, formerly housed the largest factory of Renault, the auto—maker. For decades, it was a hotbed of communist unionism. Originally built by Renault founder Louis Renault, who actively collaborated with the Nazis, it was seized by the French state following World War II. Boulogne—Billancourt was a thorn in the side of Renault, with notoriously bad quality, frequent work stoppages, and political hell—raising.

It seems the old culture lives on in the work of the local government. So instead of a brand new museum and urban redevelopment, Île Seguin will remain the former home of a closed factory.

The French are their own worst enemy.

Thomas Lifson   5 10 05