As reported in yesterday’s New York Times and other online sources, a Paris tribunal on July 2 held that the Solomon R. Guggenheim Foundation is permitted to display art as it sees fit in the Venetian palazzo, the Palazzo Venier dei Leoni, bequeathed to it along with a vast art collection by the affluent expatriate American art collector and socialite, Peggy Guggenheim.
In a long-running dispute that was the subject of an earlier judgment in 1994, Guggenheim’s heirs sought to revoke Ms. Guggenheim’s donation of her art collection to the Foundation because they claimed the institution disobeyed the conditions of her bequest. Specifically, Guggenheim’s family claimed that the original display had been altered and that the art collector’s burial site was desecrated by the Foundation with the display of new acquisitions close by.
The tribunal ordered Guggenheim’s heirs to pay 30,000 euros (or about $41,000) toward the Foundation’s legal fees, but rejected the Foundation’s demand for in excess of $136,000 from all of Guggenheim’s heirs for engaging in abusive legal procedures through the filing of their lawsuits. It has been reported that Guggenheim’s heirs intend to appeal the tribunal’s decision.
After the tribunal’s decision, the Foundation issued the following statement:
“The Solomon R. Guggenheim Foundation acknowledges the decision handed down today by the Tribunal de Grande Instance de Paris (Paris District Court) in the lawsuit brought by some of the descendants of Peggy Guggenheim. As it did in 1994, the court again rejected as baseless their allegations against the Foundation and required the claimants to contribute toward the expenses the Foundation has incurred in defending itself against this lawsuit.
The Foundation is proud to have faithfully carried out the wishes of Peggy Guggenheim for more than thirty years by preserving her collection intact in the Palazzo Venier dei Leoni, restoring and maintaining the Palazzo as a public museum and contributing to the knowledge of modern and contemporary art in Italy. The Peggy Guggenheim Collection today is the most visited museum of modern art in Italy and in 2013 was the second most visited museum in Venice, exceeded only by the Doge’s Palace.”