Venice Mayor to Deaccession Klimt and Chagall Masterpieces to Pay Off City Debts

The city hopes to raise a total of $448 million.

Gustav Klimt Judith II (Salome) (1909) Photo: artbible.info
Gustav Klimt Judith II (Salome) (1909) Photo: artbible.info

Venetian Mayor Luigi Brugnaro has revealed plans to sell off some of the city’s artworks to help settle the municipality’s mounting debts. The shortlisted works include notable paintings such as Gustav Klimt’s Judith II (Salome) (1909).

According to Der Standard, Klimt’s masterpiece, which hangs in the International Gallery of Contemporary Art in Ca ‘Pesaro, has been estimated to sell for €70 million ($79.6 million).

Brugnaro hopes that the Klimt, a painting by Marc Chagall, and other works not directly related to the history and culture of Venice will raise up to €400 million ($448 million) in total.

Gustav Klimt Judith II (Salome) (1909) Photo: artbible.info

Gustav Klimt Judith II (Salome)(1909)
Photo: artbible.info

“Debt is preventing Italy’s economic recovery. If we lower it, we can get rid of a tremendous burden. Venice wants to be an example that could be followed by other cities in Italy,” the entrepreneur Brugnaro, who was elected in June, said in a statement.

“Venice is collapsing. I do not want to tax tourists because it does not correspond to my culture. But a unique city like Venice cannot cope with problems of such dimensions by itself,” he explained.

In this year alone, the city of Venice has accumulated debts amounting to €64 million ($72.7 million). “Soon we won’t even be able to finance kindergartens,” the mayor admitted.

In the recent past, the city sold some of its historic Palazzos to replenish the municipality’s finances. And when the cash-strapped city can’t foot the bill for the much-needed restorations of its many Renaissance buildings, fashion companies oftentimes seize the opportunity to sponsor refurbishment work while promoting their brand.

It is not yet clear where and when the works will be auctioned off.


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