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Spain Obtains Right to Exhibit the Priceless Thyssen Collection

Associated Press

The Spanish government has signed a 10-year agreement with one of the world’s biggest art collectors to bring paintings by El Greco, Goya and Velazquez home for display.

The loan agreement with Baron Hans Heinrich Thyssen-Bornemisza will bring 787 of the works in his priceless collection of classic and modern art to Spain, boosting Spain temporarily to the rank of one of the world’s leading art centers.

The arrangement, which Spanish officials hope will become permanent, also includes works by Holbein, Franz Hals, Tintoretto, Ghirlandaio, Canaletto, Max Beckmann, Van Gogh, Cezanne and Degas.

The agreement signed Tuesday by the baron and Culture Minister Jorge Semprun caps years of negotiations and represents a success for Spain over such rival bidders as West Germany, Britain and Switzerland, and the Getty Museum in Malibu.

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The baron said his desire to have as many people as possible see his collection “was probably the most important motive” in his decision to bring the works temporarily to Spain.

“In doing 10 years, we can see how it works and make a decision,” the baron said, referring to the ultimate destination of his collection. He said the final decision would be up to him, his wife and his four children.

Bringing the collection to Spain reportedly is due in large part to the influence of Carmen (Tita) Cervera, a former Miss Spain and the baron’s fifth wife, and to the Duke of Badajoz, Luis Gomez-Acebo, the husband of King Juan Carlos’ sister, Pilar.

The baron’s collection of between 1,200 and 1,600 works, rivaled only by that of Queen Elizabeth II as the most impressive private gathering, has been valued at $2 billion.

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