GENEVA: An Egyptian-born magnate behind the recent sale of huge West African and Iraqi oil interests to China has pledged 20 million Swiss francs to the art and history museum in Geneva, authorities said Friday.
Addax chief Jean Claude Gandur s donation ($18.6 million) would double other private and public funding to revive a planned modern extension to the museum designed by French architect Jean Nouvel, officials said.
Gandur, who went into exile in Switzerland with his parents in the early 1960s, is the founder of the Addax and Oryx energy and mining group, which sold Addax Petroleum to China s Sinopec for $7.2 billion last year.
Under the partnership, the museum would also house part of Gandur s collection of 800 artifacts, mainly from ancient Egypt, and 20th century abstract paintings, he told Swiss radio RSR.
The Geneva museum has the biggest archaeological collection in Switzerland, so twinning my collections with the museum s existing one would create a coherent collection on a European scale, he explained.
Gandur admitted that his 250 strong collection of European post-war abstract art – Pierre Soulages, Mathieu or Jean Fautrier – was an acquired taste.
Everyone s hugely exposed to great American painters – the Pollocks, de Conincks, he said.
I hope through my collection that I ll be able to awaken a taste for post-war European abstract painting, which is an artform in its own right.
The museum extension is due to be built within the next eight years, city cultural chief Patrice Mugny said.
Despite the concentration of major personal fortunes around Lake Geneva and the Alps, French-speaking western Switzerland rarely sees private patronage of such scale for culture. -AFP