Peggy Guggenheim Descendants’ Suit Against Foundation Dismissed

peggy-guggenheim-collection-venice
The Peggy Guggenheim Collection in Venice. Photo: IslandsEnd. Via Wikimedia Commons.

A Paris court has ruled in favor of the Solomon R. Guggenheim Foundation, which was being sued by some of the descendants of Peggy Guggenheim over the foundation’s management of the Peggy Guggenheim Collection in Venice, reports the New York Times.

The collector’s grandsons and great-grandsons by her daughter, Pegeen Vail, have argued that according to the terms of Guggenheim’s will, her Venice palazzo should always display her collection as it was shown in her lifetime, in its entirety, and without contemporary additions (see artnet News report).

As artnet News previously reported, Guggenheim’s descendants through her only son and heir, Sindbad Vail, have been constant in their support of the Foundation and have spoken out against the lawsuit.

Today’s decision rejected the family’s suit, which carried near-identical complaints to a 1994 case that was also settled in the Foundation’s favor. The family was prompted to resurrect the dispute when the names of two new donors were added to the museum’s facade.

In response to the suit, the Foundation argued that the family members in question were guilty of many of the same actions included in the complaint (see artnet News report).

The court has ruled that the family must pay the Foundation about $41,000 to cover legal costs. The Foundation had been seeking an amount in excess of $136,000.

Despite the decision, the family is determined to appeal the case.  “This issue is critical because now they can do anything they want with the collection,” William Bourdan, a lawyer representing some of the family members, told the Times.

Following the decision, the Foundation issued the following statement:

The Solomon R. Guggenheim Foundation acknowledges the decision handed down today by the Tribunal de Grande Instance de Paris (Paris District Court) in the lawsuit brought by some of the descendants of Peggy Guggenheim.  As it did in 1994, the court again rejected as baseless their allegations against the Foundation and required the claimants to contribute toward the expenses the Foundation has incurred in defending itself against this lawsuit.

The Foundation is proud to have faithfully carried out the wishes of Peggy Guggenheim for more than thirty years by preserving her collection intact in the Palazzo Venier dei Leoni, restoring and maintaining the Palazzo as a public museum and contributing to the knowledge of modern and contemporary art in Italy. The Peggy Guggenheim Collection today is the most visited museum of modern art in Italy and in 2013 was the second most visited museum in Venice, exceeded only by the Doge’s Palace.


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