Abu Dhabi’s Louvre a big earner for France

Contested plans to build an annex of the Paris Louvre as part of a luxury tourism complex in Abu Dhabi are to earn the French state up to 700 million euros (900 million dollars), a report said Wednesday. According to France’s Le Monde newspaper, a French delegation will travel to the United Arab Emirates late this month to finalise details of the deal—notably on whether the new museum will carry the name “Louvre”.

The French culture ministry refused to comment on the report.

The new museum satellite, planned for 2012, is one of five to be built as part of a “culture district” on Saadiyat Island, the future site of a multi-billion-dollar tourist resort just off the coast of Abu Dhabi.

Under the terms of the contract, Abu Dhabi would reportedly pay France 150 million euros to provide it with four exhibitions per year, for 10 years, drawn from major French museums including the Louvre.

During that time, Abu Dhabi plans to spend an annual 40 million euros on establishing its own collection, the report said.


For 200 million euros, a certain number of artworks would also be provided on extended loans, for a maximum of 10 years, and gradually replaced by Abu Dhabi’s own collection.

France’s international museum agency would be in charge of managing the new museum, at a cost of 70 million euros.

For the right to use the Louvre brand name for 20 years, the emirate would be expected to pay between 200 and 400 million euros, Le Monde said.

The annex project, modelled on an initiative pioneered by New York’s Guggenheim museum, has sparked outrage in France where more than 2,000 people—including dozens of museum directors, curators and art historians—have signed a petition in protest.

Critics accuse the Louvre of “selling its soul” by loaning out its prized collections overseas, and dismiss the Abu Dhabi project as a gimmick that will deprive the Louvre’s 7.3 million annual visitors in Paris.

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