Major art sale due to cigarette factory closing

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Cigarette ban

Over the last 50 years, the British American Tobacco (BAT) factory in Zevenaar, Gelderland has built up a large collection of modern art. The factory will soon be closed and the artwork in the Stuyvesant collection will be auctioned off, albeit not as a one lot.

“At the end of the 1950s, factory director Alexander Orlow started hanging works of art among the cigarette-making machines. The workers needed something interesting to look at to stave off boredom and increase their productivity, he felt. Orlow went for modern, avant-garde art – large, colourful and mainly abstract paintings.

In collaboration with the directors of the Rotterdam Boijmans van Beuningen museum and the Stedelijk Museum in Amsterdam, it acquired over 1,500 pieces, 150 of which are often loaned to major exhibitions. But on August 15 this year, BAT announced that it would auction off the total collection.”

The commotion surrounding the sale is due to the fact that the cigarette manufacturer tried to find a buyer who would keep the collection together and accessible to the public, but had been unable to do so. Mayor Jan de Ruiter, who has been trying to save the collection since 2006, spoke to the BAT executive in London and mobilised the Dutch state, the provincial government and the Mondriaan Foundation. He spoke to Amsterdam’s Stedelijk Museum about the possibility of an annex in Zevenaar. He had calculations made on how much a Stuyvesant Museum would cost. Everyone was helpful yet all his efforts failed.

Neither Sotheby’s nor BAT want to comment on the total value of the art (which includes paintings by Karel Appel, Corneille and Anton Henning), but it is believed to be between 15 and 25 million euro.

(Link: nrc.nl (In English))

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