Essl Museum Founder to Sell €86 Million Collection to Save Company

Major collector Karlheinz Essl is prepared to sell his 7,000 work strong collection and its corresponding museum outside of Vienna to the state of Austria, according to der Standard. The collection is estimated to be worth in the realm of €86 million (US$119 million). According to a statement put out by Essl and his wife, the measure is being taken to save his financially troubled company, the hardware store chain Baumax and the jobs of its 4,000 employees.

Austrian culture minister Josef Ostermayer told the APA that he hopes to meet with the Essl family as well as representatives from their banks and Austrian finance minister in order to find a solution, “as soon as possible.” He added, “saving the 7,000 pictures and 4,000 jobs is extremely important.

At this point, the collection remains in danger of liquidation if the company’s owners were to become financially insolvent. Essl placed the artworks within a charitable foundation two years ago. However, according to Austrian law, they would only be safe from bankruptcy claims after five years within a foundation.

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