The Daughter of Collectors Who Gave the Beyeler Foundation a Trove of Art Is ‘Scandalized’ by the Museum’s Plan to Sell

A series of Dubuffet paintings donated to the museum in 2013 are now headed for sale.

The Beyeler Foundation in Riehen, Switzerland. Courtesy of the Foundation.

Switzerland’s Beyeler Foundation is planning to deaccession a series of prized works given to the museum by Micheline Renard, wife of the late French automobile executive Claude-Louis Renard, in 2013.

The donors’ daughter is not pleased.

The Renards had long been close with fellow collectors Hildy and Ernst Beyeler, who founded the museum, and Micheline Renard gave the foundation a trove of 33 paintings by major 20th-century figures, including Jean-Michel Basquiat, Sam Francis, Sigmar Polke, and Jean Tinguely. The works made up an exhibition, accompanied by an illustrated catalogue, at the foundation that same year.

But now the Beyeler has informed Delphine Renard, Claude-Louis and Micheline’s daughter, that it plans to sell four paintings by Jean Dubuffet—and apparently for no pressing reason. 

“I am scandalized and extremely disappointed by what appears to me to be a misuse of my parents’ intentions,” Delphine Renard told Les Journal des Arts, which first reported the news. “This collection was the work of their whole life; if they had simply wanted to support the foundation financially, they would have sold the paintings and given a check.” 

In a statement to Artnet News, a spokesperson for the museum said that the Beyeler Foundation’s board has the right to sell the paintings per its agreement with Micheline Renard. “I would like to stress that the option of at some point selling individual works from the Renard collection was agreed with the donor,” the representative said.

There is “no current occasion” for the sale, the spokesperson added, and the proceeds will simply go back to the museum to purchase new works for its collection. The Dubuffet paintings were chosen for the fact that the artist is already well-represented in the foundation’s collection. 

Renard countered, saying her mother was aware of the agreement “but thought that she could trust the morality of the directors of the foundation so that the donated set would be preserved in its integrity.”

“I do not deny the legal basis for this sale, but dispute the morality,” she added.

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