Pinault was joined at the much-anticipated presentation by his son François-Henri Pinault, CEO of the family-run Kering group, the renovation’s lead architect, Japan’s Tadao Ando, and the Mayor of Paris, Anne Hidalgo. Expectations were especially high given the long road Pinault has traveled towards opening a museum in Paris.
Eleven years ago, red tape thwarted his plans for a gallery on the site of a disused Renault factory on the Île Seguin. Disappointed, Pinault headed instead to Italy and created two contemporary art spaces in Venice, the Palazzo Grassi and the Punta della Dogana. (La Seine Musicale, an epic new concert venue, was recently inaugurated on the redeveloped island to the west of Paris.)
The search for an appropriate location in Paris ended when Pinault struck a deal with Hidalgo: in exchange for spending €180 million renovating the former Paris stock exchange, which stands to the west of the freshly landscaped Les Halles district, he will receive a rolling 50-year tenancy of the building. The City of Paris will also earn approximately €6.2 million annually plus royalties.
More than 750,000 people pass through Les Halles every day and yet this unique neo-classical circular structure, which most recently hosted the city’s Chamber of Commerce, goes mostly unnoticed. As part of its redesign, Ando will be preserving features like the glass cupola – the very first of its kind, 19th-century ironwork, and a double helix staircase. A giant concrete cylinder will also be installed in the middle of the building. Ando said his (removable) addition would emphasize the idea of a ‘circle within a perfect circle’ to create ‘an epicenter of art in Paris.’
Once completed, the museum will offer 3,000 square meters of exhibition space spread over five floors. There will also be a 300-seat auditorium in the basement and a restaurant on the top floor.
It’s not clear yet exactly which of Pinault’s 3,500 works will be displayed but names like Andy Warhol, Mark Rothko, Damien Hirst, Gerhard Richter, Jeff Koons, Cindy Sherman, Agnes Martin and Cy Twombly will no doubt feature prominently. Themed exhibitions and new work, including some monumental pieces, have also been promised.
Critics are already debating whether it will measure up to the Fondation Louis Vuitton, which sailed into the Paris art scene in October 2014. Designed by Frank Gehry and owned by Pinault’s rival Bernard Arnault, it attracted 1.2 million visitors in 2016.
You can judge for yourself which comes out on top when the Pinault Collection – Paris opens to the public in 2019.