Art & Finance in Paris
Giving something back to the society is a trend that was in the news some months ago, when the two American billionaires Bill Gates and Warren Buffet decided to give half of their wealth to philanthropy. They must have been surprised when, instead of meeting with a chorus of approval, this action caused frenzied discussion in Europe and the USA about the nature of private engagement and the enormous sum of their donations. It appears this sort of largesse is not as popular in Europe as it is in the United States. Nevertheless it is a worldwide trend. Tonika Hirdman, Director General at the Fondation de Luxembourg, talked about the possibility of art philanthropy at the third Deloitte Luxembourg Art & Finance conference, which was sponsored by Luxembourg for Finance and took place this year in Paris.
According to Tonika Hirdman, the beneficiaries of these donations and the objects that are donated can be various. If a wealthy individual decides to donate his/her art collection to posterity, not only the immediate institution but the whole art market benefits from this gracious gift.
Today, a new responsible generation of owners is developing. “They are more business-like and younger and made their wealth themselves”, Hirdman says. This new generation feels less of an engagement to pass its wealth on to following generations. Engaging in philanthropy is one way of letting others benefit from their collection.
“It is a question of belief and self-fulfillment” continues Hirdman. Creating a foundation can have multiple advantages for them. People who do not have a family can leave a footprint. Social cohesion, a personal culture of giving and experience of sharing can be other reasons for donating.
By sharing their collection, donors can enrich museum collections or create their own exhibitions. This is a huge step that has to be carefully thought through and theFondation de Luxembourg can help owners work their way through this process. The Foundation cares for the collections and makes them accessible to the public.
It is responsible for the management, supervision and reporting to the foundation. Indeed, not only artwork but also historic monuments can be preserved in a foundation and made open for public visits. Another angle that could interest donors is supporting emerging artists, whether from emerging or developed countries.
“A foundation provides a proper structure for a long term commitment”, Hirdman explains. It is a way of institutionalising property and increasing visibility and credibility. Moreover, it should not be forgotten that a foundation is a tax efficient structure.
Setting up a foundation in Luxembourg is also particularly interesting given that Luxembourg offers an exceptional level of political and economical stability, which is very important for long term commitments.