MESOPOTAMIA NEWS : France should sell Mona Lisa for 50 billion euros to cover coronavirus losses: CEO suggests
22 Mai 2020 – PARIS,— France could make up for its financial losses amid the coronavirus pandemic by selling the Mona Lisa, a tech CEO has suggested.Stephane Distinguin, the founder of tech company Fabernovel, made the suggestion in a magazine interview, explaining that France should “sell the family jewellery” for at least €50 billion.
“Day after day, we list the billions engulfed in this slump like children counting the fall of a stone into a well to measure its depth,” Distinguin told Usbek & Rica Magazine. “We are still counting, and this crisis seems unfathomable.”
“As an entrepreneur and a taxpayer, I know that these billions are not invented and that they will necessarily cost us. An obvious reflex is to sell off a valuable asset at the highest price possible, but one that is the least critical as possible to our future.”
He continued: “A painting is easy to move and therefore to hand over. And we have a lot of paintings … In 2020, we have to get the money where it is. So sell family jewellery … The price is the crux of the matter and the main subject of controversy. The price has to be insane for the operation to make sense. I estimate that it would take no less than €50 billion to acquire the Mona Lisa. I was told that my estimate was very overvalued, even far-fetched, but each time without real arguments.”
Distinguin also suggested that the Mona Lisa could be “tokenised”, with a form of crypto-currency allowing the painting to be easily exchanged between nations.
“It would be like a big global subscription,” he explained. “Legally and technically, this solution would have many advantages: it would allow France and the Louvre to keep control of the painting. One can even imagine that this ploy would garner the assent of the great Leonardo da Vinci, he who painted but also mastered all the sciences and technologies of his time.”
In 2019, the Louvre commenced work on a virtual reality programme that would allow visitors to experience da Vinci’s Mona Lisa up close and away from the crowds of tourists at the world-famous gallery.
The painting was also dubbed the world’s most disappointing tourist attraction in April 2019, according to a survey conducted by Easyjet customers.
2014: Could France sell the Mona Lisa to pay off its debts?
In 2014 France was in debt to the tune of 2,000 billion euros. Could selling off the country’s art make a dent in that figure?
Leonardo da Vinci’s Mona Lisa is probably the best known work of art in the world.
Her enigmatic smile beams down on hundreds of thousands of tourists a year at the Louvre Museum in Paris.
She could also bring a smile to France’s cash-strapped government if a sale could ease the national debt.
Heavily-indebted Portugal is doing something similar, putting its state-owned collection of Miro paintings up for sale.
It hopes to recuperate 36 million euros – not much when put against its national debt of 210 billion euros.
Hefty price tag
So how much is the Mona Lisa actually worth?
The masterpiece is often called “priceless”, and according to “Guiness World Records”, the painting was valued at 100 million dollars in 1962 for insurance purposes.
With inflation taken into account, the 2014 value would be nearing a billion dollars, less than half a percent of the French national debt.
But the Mona Lisa is not alone. Paris has 173 museums filled to the rafters with hugely valuable works of art.
A sell-off of the impressionists at the Musée d’Orsay alone, it is estimated, could clear the French capital’s debt (around four billion euros) in one go.
But no one dares consider such a radical move.
Bruno Julliard, head of culture at Paris City Hall, told L’Express last week that the city “isn’t yet in such dire economic straits”.
Selling public art is illegal
The hypothesis of a general sell-off of France’s massive cultural heritage presents a number of significant hurdles.
For a start, it’s against the law.
Article 451-5 of the French “Heritage Code” law governing national treasures stipulates: “Collections held in museums that belong to public bodies are considered public property and cannot be otherwise.”
Even a change in the law would be problematic, as most of France’s cultural heritage has historically come from individual donors, who enjoy significant tax breaks in return for their generosity. They would have to be heavily compensated if their donated works were sold off.
Meanwhile, Paris has been selling off what it can, including the finest wines from the Elysée presidential palace cellar, and the former International Conference Centre near the Arc de Triomphe.
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