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José Berardo is on the verge of signing an agreement to show his art in Lisbon

The billionaire's collection features Frida Kahlo, Francis Bacon and Dan Flavin, among others

London

The Portuguese billionaire José Berardo is set to sign an agreement with the Portuguese government this month to loan art from his collection of some 4,000 Modern and contemporary works on a long-term basis to the Belém Cultural Centre (CCB) in Lisbon.

Mr Berardo, frustrated at excessive red tape which caused lengthy delays to the project, had threatened to send the works to France instead (The Art Newspaper, December 2005, p.1). This seems to have galvanised the Portuguese government into speeding up negotiations with Mr Berardo.

Lawyers for Mr Berardo, who is chairman of the holding company Metalgest, are currently drafting the terms of the agreement which has to be finalised by 15 February. However, if this deal falls through, Mr Berardo told The Art Newspaper that he “is still prepared to work with the French government”.

Mr Berardo met French State officials last November. They proposed possible sites in France for a museum to house his collection. These include a new museum site in Toulouse and the Ile Seguin in Paris, where the French billionaire François Pinault had planned to build a museum to house his contemporary art. Mr Pinault abandoned this project and is to display his collection at the Palazzo Grassi in Venice instead which he purchased last year.

If all goes to plan, the Portuguese agreement entails transferring a portion of Mr Berardo’s works to the CCB with an exhibition drawn from the collection scheduled for late 2006. Future shows under discussion include a retrospective devoted to Frida Kahlo. The other artists represented in his collection include Francis Bacon, Dan Flavin, and the Chapman brothers.

Mr Berardo told The Art Newspaper that the Portuguese government eventually plans to build a new museum in front of the CCB to house his collection, scheduled to open in 2010. He has, however, warned that he will not sell or donate any art to Portugal as he has a “large family”. A spokesperson for the Portuguese government eventually plans to build a new museum in front of the CCB to house his collection, scheduled to open in 2010. He has, however, warned that he will not sell or donate any art to Portugal as he has a “large family”. A spokesperson for the Portuguese Ministry of Culture declined to comment.

The CCB has previously shown three exhibitions of works on loan from the billionaire.

Originally appeared in The Art Newspaper as ‘Portugal (almost) wins the race to show billionaire’s collection'