Friday, March 3, 2017

Getty Battled Margaret Thatcher for Thyssen Collection

In the 1980s the Getty Museum approached mega-collectors Norton Simon, Walter Annenberg, and Baron Heini Thyssen-Bornemisza on the off chance that one might be willing to sell his collection to the cash-rich, art-poor museum. All said no thanks. An Art Newspaper article by Martin Bailey fills in some details. It's mainly about Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher's secret attempt to secure the Thyssen collection for Britain. She failed too. (The Thyssen-Bornemisza museum is in Madrid).
Newly uncovered documents show that the Getty offered $500 million for the Thyssen collection in 1988 (12 years after J. Paul Getty's death). That may sound like a bargain price today, but it was more that double Thatcher's offer of £120 million.
Baron Thyssen said he "did not feel the Getty Foundation is a particularly reliable body."
Thyssen and J. Paul Getty knew each other slightly. The Baron once offered Getty this advice: “Stop buying this rubbish and buy a good picture for once.”
Not the best pictures Thyssen ever bought: Portraits of the Baron and Baroness (1987 and 1989) by Ricardo Macarrón

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