FRANÇOIS PINAULT VS BERNARD ARNAULT
The “rivalry” between two great art collectors
François Pinault and Bernard Arnault, among the two richest men in France, are business rivals, but have a common passion that unites them: that of art collecting.
It’s a twenty-year battle that the two billionaires, Pinault, founder of the Kering group and Arnault of LVMH, are fighting, to the tune of millions and tricks, “to conquer the title of prince-patron of modern times”.
Bernard Arnault and François Pinault had cordial relations until 1999, when the hostilities that remain to this day began. The trigger of the war of luxury was the acquisition of the Gucci brand by Pinault’s fashion house at the expense of Arnault.
Over the years, the clear winner of the luxury war has been Arnault, currently the richest man in France, with an estimated wealth of 92.7 billion dollars, followed by Pinault with a wealth of 32.8 billion dollars.
And so the “duel” moves onto the art scene, where Pinault, one of the world’s largest private art collectors to date – his collection includes over 3,000 works of art, ranging from the 20th to the 21st century, worth over $1.2 billion.
In addition to collecting, since 2006, François Pinault’s cultural project has been structured around three axes: museum activities in Venice, initiatives to support artists and the promotion of art history.
The exhibition activity of the Pinault Collection has found space in two excellent locations in Venice: Palazzo Grassi on the one hand, inaugurated in 2006, and Punta della Dogana on the other, opened to the public in 2009, whose spaces have been restored and set up by Japanese architect Tadao Ando. In addition to the Venetian museums, François Pinault will inaugurate a new exhibition venue at the Bourse de commerce in Paris in spring 2021.
For his part, Bernard Arnault has brought together a Corporate Art Collection that represents extraordinary support for his empire based on the marriage of luxury and art. Arnault earned his reputation on the art scene, not only by collecting but also by financing the exhibitions of the great Parisian national museums and then creating his own contemporary art foundation: the Fondation Louis Vuitton in Paris.
The foundation represents a significant new contribution to Parisian heritage thanks to the building that houses it: an emblem of 21st century architecture by Archistar Frank Gehry.
The exhibition activity of the Fondation Louis Vuitton focused on modern and contemporary art, attracting a number of visitors comparable to that of a large museum: the entrances in 2018 were 1,142,731. Although the headquarters is in Paris, with the program “hors les murs” Louis Vuitton Espaces have also opened in Venice, Beijing, Monaco, Tokyo and Seoul where works from the permanent collection are exhibited.
A “battle” between two great art collectors that certainly fascinates, but which has also allowed the art public to enjoy great exhibitions such as the 2017 “Treasures from the wreck of unbelievable” with the incredible works of Damien Hirst between Palazzo Grassi and Punta della Dogana or even between 2018-2019 to visit the monographs dedicated to great artists such as Egon Schiele and Jean-Michel Basquiat at the Fondation Louis Vuitton.