Acquisitions Switzerland

Beyeler’s final gift

An acquisition budget for his museum

Ernst Beyeler

basel. The Fondation Beyeler is to have its first acquisition budget thanks to the late Ernst Beyeler, the art dealer and co-founder of Art Basel, whose private collection it houses.

According to Sam Keller, the director of the foundation, the funding to add to the collection comes from an endowment, comprising money from Beyeler plus the proceeds of a Christie’s auction of his inventory to be held in London next week (21-22 June). Prior to Beyeler’s death in February 2010, he gave “one or two pieces” a year to the Renzo Piano-designed museum, which opened to the public in 1997.

His will stipulated that his commercial gallery should close and its inventory be sold, helping to cover the foundation’s operating costs and, said Keller, “to finance other ambitions”, including ­purchasing works by the 40-plus artists in the museum’s permanent collection. Keller would not comment on whether or not the foundation was buying this week at Art Basel, the fair Beyeler helped establish in 1970.

The 40 lots in Christie’s evening auction on 21 June are estimated to make between £46.9m and £68.4m, and include an imposing, late Monet, Nymphéas, 1914-17, the highest estimated lot at £17m-£24m. Sotheby’s and Phillips de Pury were also invited to pitch for the Beyeler consignment; Christie’s is believed to have made the better offer, in terms of its commission structure.

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