France might be on the verge of auctioning a portion of its national art collections in an attempt to fill its empty coffers, the Local reports.
The initiative is part of a bill that Emmanuel Macron, France’s Minister of Economy, presented last December, and which includes plans to sell off state-owned assets worth up to €10 billion.
According to the Local, a recent parliamentary report claimed that hundreds of thousands of artworks—many of which have never been displayed and are thought to be in a state of disrepair—are kept in storage all over France.
The authors of the report consulted Guillaume Cerutti, head of Sotheby’s France, who encouraged French officials to embrace the US model, where museums like MoMA often sell unused parts of their permanent collections to bankroll new acquisitions.
In the report, Cerutti cites as an example the more than 250,000 artworks that are currently overflowing the storage rooms at the Louvre—a situation he describes as a “grotesque waste.”
But, according to the Local, French art lovers have expressed dismay at the possibility of letting go of their nation’s precious art bounty.
This is not the first time that rumors about auctioning state-owned artworks fly across France. Last September, the television channel France 24 alarmed viewers by speculating on the sale the Mona Lisa—worth around €1.9 billion—as a possible strategy to help offset the country’s €2,000 billion deficit.
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