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Couvent des Prêcheurs, the planned location of the Picasso museum.

Plans for World’s Largest Picasso Museum Scrapped

Plans for an enormous museum in Aix-en-Provence, France, that would have housed the world’s largest collection of works by Pablo Picasso have been dropped, The Art Newspaper reports. The institution, whose establishment was announced in February 2018, was the brainchild of Picasso’s stepdaughter Catherine Hutin-Blay, whose mother was Jacqueline Roque, Picasso’s second wife.

Slated to open in 2021 in Couvent des Prêcheurs, a former convent, the museum was to have shown across more than 16,000 square feet of exhibition space 1,000 paintings culled from the roughly 2,000 Picasso works inherited by Hutin-Blay upon her mother’s death. The displayed works would have outnumbered those held by the Picasso museums in Paris, Antibes, Barcelona, and Malaga, respectively.

Hutin-Blay, who lives in Aix, where her parents are buried, had arranged through her company, Madame Z, to purchase Couvent des Prêcheurs in December 2017 from the city at a reduced price—$13.5 million, rather than the $14.3 million at which it was valued. Aix mayor Maryse Joissains Masini told local press at the time that officials had agreed to the deal because there was “strong local interest” in the project.

In the ensuing years, Hutin-Blay and the Aix city council attempted to hammer out a sales arrangement that was satisfactory to all parties. The pike upon which the plans fatally fell was the city’s demand that Hutin-Blay accept an “assignment clause that guaranteed that this space . . . would remain a museum for at least fifteen years,” Joissains Masini said in a statement published on Facebook.

On Hutin-Blay’s refusal to accept the clause, the city called off the sale, with Joissains Masini explaining, “We couldn’t run the risk of this place changing [use] or being sold quickly.” The mayor noted that if Hutin-Blay were to accept the clause and “present a non-exhaustive list of works by Pablo Picasso that could be exhibited in this cultural place, we would relaunch this beautiful project with pleasure.”

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