No Essl Collection for Austrian State

Agnes and Karlheinz Essl Photo: Frank Garzarolli, ©Sammlung Essl (Essl Collection) Privatstiftung, 2009

Karlheinz and Agnes Essl pulled their offer to sell their 7,000 work strong collection at a roundtable meeting on Wednesday, according to the dpa. This comes after a week of speculation in which public officials and experts warned against a government purchase of the works, currently housed in a private museum just outside Vienna.

The collector and businessman had previously suggested that the government should buy the collection so that he could reinvest the money into his struggling hardware store chain, Baumax, in order to save 4,000 Austrian jobs. The works have a book value of €86 million and and estimated current value of up to €250 million if pieced out.

Rather than selling the collection Essl says Baumax will close seven locations in Turkey and consider pulling out of Eastern Europe altogether.

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