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Louvre Renovation Snagged by Minister’s Refusal to Move

Associated Press

A snag developed today in plans to renovate the Louvre Museum, which houses the Mona Lisa, the Venus de Milo and Finance Minister Edouard Balladur.

The government announced that Balladur, sometimes referred to as “Louis XIV” in the French press for his magisterial manner, refuses to move from his lavish offices in the Louvre.

Balladur and 1,200 of his civil servants will remain in the museum’s northern wing until “appropriate space can be found for them in the center of Paris,” the government statement said.

The decision means the multibillion dollar project designed by Chinese-American architect I. M. Pei will not be completed until the end of the century.

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Balladur’s refusal has preserved what the French call the sacred triangle, the all-important link between the Elysee Palace, home to French presidents since 1873, the Hotel Matignon, home of prime ministers since 1958, and the Louvre, home to the Finance Ministry since 1871.

The statement ended a 16-month dispute between Balladur, the most powerful member of the Cabinet after Premier Jacques Chirac, and Culture Minister Francois Leotard, who wanted Balladur to relocate next year to an ultramodern high tech complex in Bercy on the eastern side of Paris.


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