PRINT September 2009

Sarah K. Rich

THE PUNTA DELLA DOGANA is a protrusion of land that juts out at the southern entrance of Venice’s Grand Canal. Its name, which means “Customs Point,” refers to an earlier function of the spot: Serving as Venice’s chief maritime portal, it was the location of the city’s sea customs for four centuries. As a site historically given over to the task of deciding what may or may not enter, the Punta would provide any collector a powerful venue for putting his aesthetic criteria on display. The customs building is especially appropriate for François Pinault, the French billionaire whose private collection will be housed from now on in the newly renovated structure. Pinault arrived at his riches, after all, by controlling majority shares in luxury-brand companies like Gucci, Yves Saint Laurent, and Château Latour—whose fortunes depend in part on the dutiful enforcement of anti-knockoff laws at

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