Alberto Giacometti

The Giacometti Foundation becomes a reality at long last, but lawsuits brought against the Association wear on

In accordance with the president of the Foundation's emphasis on turning over a new leaf, none of the Association's members have been elected to the board

It has taken over 10 years for Annette Giacometti’s last wishes to be carried out, but on 15 December the “Fondation Alberto-et-Annette Giacometti” was finally created. This does not mean that the disputes, scandals and court cases have been resolved, by any means: there are still 15 legal actions outstanding, including a recent one brought by the director of the new foundation, Veronique Weisinger, against her old enemy, the Giacometti Association, for abuse of confidence. The stakes are high: today, the value of the 3,661 works left by Annette to the future Foundation is no less than €292 million (£202 million, $372 million). About 100 pieces will go to Annette Giacometti’s two Swiss brothers; other heirs will receive part of the rights when works are sold. The Foundation’s statutes lay down that some pieces cannot be disposed of, but that others, posthumous bronzes, prints and books valued at €70 million (£48.5 million, $89.5 million), may be sold to pay for costs. The foundation, for the moment, will not have an exhibition space, but will lend to museums; however it will produce a catalogue raisonné and combat fakes. The new foundation is a slap in the face for the Association Giacometti, which was supposed to be the first stage in the creation of the foundation and seems now destined to disappear. None of its members has been nominated to the foundation’s board. Its president, Jacques Vistel, said, “What did the association do over all those years? Remember that board members are not paid, while Marie Lisa Palmer [the association’s director] and her husband were salaried. We decided to turn the page on the past and draw closer to the Swiss foundation and to the Giacometti would be lamentable if you had pieces on the market that were authenticated by one foundation and rejected by another.” The association may yet bring yet another lawsuit against the foundation, according to its lawyer, Maitre Brouquet-Canale: “We are seeing if we can come to some agreement with Mr Vistel so that Mrs Palmer can continue to work on her catalogue raisonné, and that members of the association are represented on the foundation’s board, as Annette Giacometti wished. Otherwise, we will examine what legal steps we might take.” Further complicating the imbroglio is another possible lawsuit: Michel Arm, Annette’s brother, has demanded the annulment of her will. “This is a last-ditch fight for purely mercenary reasons,” says Jacques Vist.

Originally appeared in The Art Newspaper as 'A Giacometti Foundation, enfin, but the lawsuits continue'

Appeared in The Art Newspaper Archive, 144 February 2004