France Awards Honorary Distinctions to Francois Pinault and Slain Artist Leila Alaoui

Filmmakers Agnès Varda and Amos Gitai also received honorary medals.

Francois Pinault attends the presentation of the project to install his art collection at the Paris Commercial Exchange on April 27, 2016. Photo Chesnot/Getty Images.

Nearing the final days of his term, French President François Hollande has awarded the French Legion of Honor medals for the last time as the country’s leader. Among the 562 recipients either honored for the first time or moving up the Legion of Honor’s five different ranks, were luminaries from the fields of arts and culture including mega collector and Christie’s owner Francois Pinault.

Pinault, also the chairman of the luxury goods giant Kering, is opening a private museum in Paris next year. He received France’s highest distinction for civilians, The Dignity of the Grand-Croix.

Other honorees include Serge Lasvignes, president of the Centre Pompidou, who was made commander of the Légion d’honneur. French New Wave filmmaker Agnès Varda, whose one-woman show at New York’s Blum & Poe has just closed, was named Grand Officier, while Israeli filmmaker Amos Gitai was awarded the Chevalier ranking.

Meanwhile, a different French distinction, The Order of Arts and Letters—which recognizes significant contributions to art and literature—was awarded posthumously to Leila Alaoui.

The 33-year-old French-Moroccan photographer was murdered in a terror attack in Burkina Faso last January. She was there on assignment for Amnesty International, working on a project based on women’s rights in the country.

French minister of culture, Audrey Azoulay, announced the distinction, which was handed to Alaoui’s mother by Pierre Bergé in a ceremony in Morocco on April 14.


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