• France's news in English
Could France sell off its art to pay the debts?
The Louvre, which is home to thousands of artworks that are gathering dust. Photo: ZoetNet/Flickr

Could France sell off its art to pay the debts?

The Local · 5 Jan 2015, 12:19

Published: 05 Jan 2015 12:19 GMT+01:00

Facebook Twitter Google+ reddit

Hundreds of thousands of artworks are clogging up the backrooms of museums across France, the report says. Many have never been put on show and are often in a state of total disrepair.

Guillaume Cerutti, the head of Sotheby’s France, was consulted by the authors of the report for his opinion. He argues that France should move closer to a model used in the United States, where institutions like the Museum of Modern Art (MOMA) sometimes sell unused parts of their collections to free up resources for the acquisition of more relevant artworks.

Cerutti said something needed to be done to tackle the “grotesque waste” seen in national collections. In the Louvre alone, for example, some 250,000 works are currently hidden away in overflow rooms.

Museums should be given the option of selling works that have been in public collections for at least 50 years, pending a green light from an expert commission, according to Cerutti.

With a new heritage law in the offing this spring, business news site BFM says France should at least consider the prospect of going a step further and selling art to plug gaping holes in the public coffers.

Though undoubtedly controversial, it wouldn’t be the first time France had sold off treasures to prop up its finances.  

In 2013 the Elysée Palace, the official residence of President Hollande, announced it was to flog 1,000 bottles of fine wine to fund renovations. 

Story continues below…

Last summer France said it was letting go of a fancy apartment it owned on 5th Avenue in New York, just months after the government sold off its luxurious 18-room ambassador’s residence on Park Avenue for $70 million (€52 million).

In what was perhaps the most divisive transaction of this kind, last month the government faced accusations of treason when it announced plans to sell half of Toulouse’s airport, the country’s fourth largest and home of aircraft maker Airbus, to a Chinese-led consortium. 

Facebook Twitter Google+ reddit

Your comments about this article

Today's headlines
Where exactly in France are Calais migrants being sent?
Photo: AFP

Here's where the 8,000 migrants in Calais are heading.

The annoying questions only a half French, half British person can answer
Photo: Beery/Flickr/AFP

Being half French, half British is means you get asked a lot of questions (and some of them can be a little annoying.)

Migrants bussed out of Calais Jungle to all corners of France
All photos: AFP

Hundreds of migrants are being bussed across France on Monday ahead of the demolition of the Jungle camp.

The must-see French films of the millennium - Part One
A Prophet. Photo: YouTube Screengrab

Looking for something to watch?

The must-see French films of the millennium - Part Two
Rust and Bone. Photo: YouTube Screengrab

The newest French films you need to see before you die (or alternatively when you get some spare time).

Election Watch
Presidential hopeful reckons a pain au chocolat is 10 cents

So France happily takes the pastry out of him.

French ministry of defence officials die in plane crash
Screengrab: eddydeg/Twitter

The French Ministry of Defence officials were killed on Monday when a light aircraft went down on the island of Malta.

Revealed: The ten most stolen cars in France
A Smart car in Paris. Photo: JR_Paris/Flickr

Thieves in France are getting a taste for luxury cars, it seems.

Analysis - France migrant crisis
Migrant crisis won't end with Calais 'Jungle' closure
All Photos: AFP

The Jungle camp may be being cleared but this won't be the end of the migrant crisis in France.

Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie 'to sell their French chateau'
All photos: AFP

Want to live where Brangelina got married?

The annoying questions only a half French, half Brit can answer
Sponsored Article
Last chance to vote absentee in the US elections
Forget Brangelina's chateau - here are nine others you've got to see
The must-see French films of the millennium - Part One
How life for expats in France has changed over the years
Why Toulouse is THE place to be in France right now
Video: New homage to Paris shows the 'real side' of city
The 'most dangerous' animals you can find in France
Swap London fogs for Paris frogs: France woos the Brits
Anger after presenter kisses woman's breasts on live TV
Is France finally set for a cold winter this year?
IN PICS: The story of the 'ghost Metro stations' of Paris
How to make France's 'most-loved' dish: Magret de Canard
Welcome to the flipside: 'I'm not living the dream in France'
Do the French really still eat frogs' legs?
French 'delicacies' foreigners really find hard to stomach
French are the 'world's most pessimistic' about the future
Why the French should not be gloomy about the future
This is the most useful French lesson you will ever have. How to get angry
Why is there a giant clitoris in a field in southern France?
French pastry wars: Pain au chocolat versus chocolatine
Countdown: The ten dishes the French love the most
Expats or immigrants in France: Is there a difference?
How the French reinvented dozens of English words
jobs available