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Spain Agrees To Purchase Thyssen Collection

June 19, 1993

MADRID, Spain (AP) _ The Spanish government on Friday approved the purchase of the Thyssen private art collection, one of the most prized in the world, for $350 million - about one-fifth its estimated value.

The 775-piece collection of Baron Hans Heinrich Thyssen-Bornemisza has been valued at $1.7 billion. It is the world’s second-largest private collection, surpassed only by that of Britain’s Queen Elizabeth.

″It’s an enormous satisfaction for everybody to conclude this deal successfully,″ Culture Minister Jori Sole Tura told reporters. ″There are few precedents with which this can be compared.″

The baron agreed to loan the artwork to Spain for 9 1/2 years in return for $90 million after it outgrew its home in Switzerland. It has been housed since last October in the Thyssen-Bornemisza Museum in Madrid.

Museums in the United States, Germany and Japan earlier had sought to obtain the collection, which spans the 10th century to the present.

Under terms of the new agreement, the collection may not be broken up or sold, although individual pieces may be loaned to other museums.

German industrialist Baron Heinrich Thyseen-Bornemisza laid the foundations for the collection in the 1920s when he took advantage of the world depression to buy up Old Master paintings.

The younger Thyssen branched out into impressionism, 19th century genre painting, cubism, surrealism, fauvism, expressionism, Russian avante-garde and pop art.

The Thyssen-Bornemisza museum, together with the Prado and Reina Sofia Modern Art Center, make up Madrid’s so-called Golden Triangle of art.

Spain landed the prized collection largely through the efforts of Thyssen’s fifth wife and former Miss Spain, Carmen Cervera, and his late friend Luis Gomez, Duke of Badajoz and brother-in-law of King Juan Carlos.

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