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Paris court rejects lawsuit over Peggy Guggenheim Collection

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Court rejects family's suit over Peggy Guggenheim Collection (@GuggenheimPGC)
Descendants of Peggy Guggenheim accuse Solomon R. Guggenheim Foundation of 'desecration' of her grave

A court in Paris has dismissed claims brought against the Solomon R. Guggenheim Foundation by descendants of Peggy Guggenheim, who are alleging that the foundation has mismanaged the late American collector's former home in Venice, Italy. Family members are expected to appeal the ruling. 

On Wednesday, the court rejected their claims that the foundation, which manages the Peggy Guggenheim Collection in Venice, is required to display art at the famed venue in a manner as she had when she was alive.  

The family members had argued Peggy Guggenheim stipulated that her art from her collection be displayed at the Palazzo Venier dei Leoni and that exhibitions featuring art from other collections be temporary and displayed in a different building.

They contended that the palazzo exhibits only part of her collection and that much of the art on display is from other private collections and is being displayed permanently. As part of their suit, they were demanding the revocation of Peggy Guggenheim's donation to the foundation.

In 1965, Peggy Guggenheim gave the bulk of her highly valued contemporary art collection to her uncle's foundation, and she later left her Venice home to the New York-based group. Since then, the organization has accepted art donated by other collectors.

Members of the family previously sued the foundation in the 1990s, making many of the same accusations. That lawsuit was settled with the foundation agreeing to keep the family informed about exhibitions and other developments. 

The Solomon R. Guggenheim Foundation issued a statement Wednesday saying that it is "is proud to have faithfully carried out the wishes of Peggy Guggenheim for more than 30 years by preserving her collection intact in the Palazzo Venier dei Leoni, restoring and maintaining the Palazzo as a public museum and contributing to the knowledge of modern and contemporary art in Italy."

One descendant of Peggy Guggeneheim said on Wednesday that family members will appeal the court ruling, adding that they still believe the foundation has acted inappropriately. 

"This court decision doesn't mean in any way that our claims aren't justified," said Sindbad Rumney, a great-grandson of Peggy Guggenheim, in an e-mail.

He said her wish was for the foundation to  preserve and maintain her collection and home and "not to baby sit other collections which wouldn't have any kind of exposure if they weren't there."

As part of their lawsuit, the family members said other collectors' names have been given prominent visual placement near the site where Peggy Guggenheim's ashes are kept on the grounds of the museum, and that it constitutes a "desecration" of her grave.

Wednesday's court decision included a ruling ordering the descendants to pay some of the foundation's legal fees relating to the case.

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Copyright © 2014, Los Angeles Times
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