Spain Will Pay Heiress Carmen Cervera $7.9 Million a Year to Keep Her Art Collection in the Country for the Next 15 Years

Works by Rodin, Gauguin, and Van Gogh are part of the $1 billion collection.

Baroness Carmen Thyssen-Bornemisza. Photo by Juan Naharro Gimenez/Getty Images.
Baroness Carmen Thyssen-Bornemisza. Photo by Juan Naharro Gimenez/Getty Images.

The Spanish culture ministry has made a deal with the art collector and socialite Carmen Cervera that will see her collection of some 400 artworks remain in the country for the next 15 years.

The artworks, which include paintings and sculptures by artists including Brueghel the Elder, Vincent Van Gogh, and Auguste Rodin, have been valued at around €1.04 billion ($1.3 billion). They will remain provisionally at the Museo Nacional Thyssen-Bornemisza in Madrid, where they have been on loan since 1999.

Spain’s culture minister, José Manuel Rodríguez Uribes, came to the agreement with the baroness, whose full name is Carmen Thyssen-Bornemisza de Kászo, on Friday. The fate of the valuable collection had been uncertain since January 2017, when a previous loan agreement came to an end. Given the constraints of museum lockdowns, it was unclear whether the Spanish government would be able to secure sufficient funding to extend the loan agreement.

The deal now allows for the collection to remain on loan to the Spanish state for 15 years, after which the state will be given the option to purchase the collection. Cervera previously gave the state the option to buy the collection in 2010. The Spanish government will now pay Cervera €6.5 million ($7.9 million) a year for the loan.

The agreement also ensures the return of Paul Gauguin’s 1892 painting Mata Mua (In Olden Times) to the museum, the whereabouts of which had been in question since it was removed from the museum in 2019 with an export license. Previously suspected to have been headed for sale, the prized work will now stay with the rest of the collection.

The 400 artworks will be displayed in the museum inside the ducal Villahermosa Palace in Madrid, alongside some 775 works from the personal collection of Cervera’s late husband, the industrialist Hans Heinrich von Thyssen-Bornemisza, which the Spanish government acquired in 1993.

Finally, the agreement also commits the ministry of culture and the Thyssen-Bornemisza Foundation to working with Cervera on plans for a museum she is opening in San Feliu de Guixols, on the Costa Brava.


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