Carmen Thyssen extends free lease of art collection to government for another year

“I don’t want to leave my country,” the baroness says

Baroness Carmen Thyssen at the Thyssen-Bornemisza Museum last July.
Baroness Carmen Thyssen at the Thyssen-Bornemisza Museum last July. PERE DURÁN

Carmen Thyssen-Bornemisza is extending her deal with the government to display her private collection for free in Madrid for one more year.

The baroness said she had had “many offers from other countries,” but Wednesday’s announcement demonstrates her desire for her artworks to go on being displayed alongside those of her late husband, the Baron Thyssen, at the capital’s Thyssen-Bornemisza Museum. “I don’t want to leave my country,” she said.

She admitted that the thing that most concerns her is leaving everything resolved for her heirs, but the current economic situation left her no option other than to extend the temporary deal. “I pray that the crises end and I sort myself out too. Another year free. What am I going to do!” she said.

The baroness’s decision extends the free lease of her collection to a third consecutive year, on top of the 11 years since she first signed it over.

At the end of 2010, she rejected an offer by the Culture Ministry, then headed up by Ángeles González-Sinde under Zapatero’s Socialist government, to lease her collection to the state for two years for a fixed sum based on the calculation established for leasing her husband’s collection before it was acquired by the state in 1993.

The baroness’s collection comprises 460 works, 240 of which are on display in the museum. In July of last year she sold one of the jewels in the collection, The Lock by British landscape painter John Constable, at auction in London for 27.89 million euros in order to “get liquidity.” Under the terms of the lease agreement, the baroness has the right to sell 10 percent of the total value of the collection, which is fixed at 800 million euros.

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