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Guggenheim Family Feuding Over Peggy Guggenheim’s Legacy

A law suit has been filed over the future of the Peggy Guggenheim art museum in Venice Italy.

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Peggy Guggenheim (1898 - 1979) in 1953 (Photo by Frank ScherschelTime Life PicturesGetty)

The descendants of the American art collector and socialite Peggy Guggenheim have filed a law suit against the Guggenheim Foundation. In it they claim that the Solomon R. Guggenheim Foundation’s operations of the Peggy Guggenheim Art Collection in Venice Italy violate the stipulations laid down by the late philanthropist in her will.

At issue is whether or not the Foundation is allowed to add other works of art to the original collection housed in Peggy Guggenheim’s Venice palazzo and if the entire collection must be displayed. The family believes that the collection can only be displayed as it was in their ancestor’s lifetime, but the Foundation maintains that it can ad to it.

Peggy Guggenheim / venice19

Between 1999 and 2013, The Foundation held exhibits of outside art work on the grounds of the museum no fewer than fourteen times.

The plaintiffs also protest the addition of the names of the Rudolp B. and Hannelore B. Schulhoff, who donated many works of art which have been added to the collection, to the museum’s facade.

Sandro Rumney and Nicolas Helion, Guggenheim’s grandchildren, and her daughter, Pegeen Vail brought the law suit. But the Guggenheim Foundation claims that Peggy Guggenheim’s sole heir was her son, Sindbad Vail, and that only he would have had grounds to bring the law suit. Her children, they say, have expressed their disappointment that the law suit was filed.

In 1992, Rumney and Helion also attempted to sue but the case was dismissed by a French Court. But according to the Foundation, in a later settlement the brothers agreed that it is, “the exclusive right of the Foundation to the exercise its control over conservation of the Collection and exhibition of the works of art in the Palace.”

Another complaint made by the family centers on the holding of events in the palazzo’s garden where Peggy is buried. But the Foundation counters that plaintiffs have themselves attended many functions in the garden.

In a statement The Foundation said, “these events carry forward Peggy Guggenheim’s own tradition of sociability in the garden. They are held with great consideration and respect for the quiet corner of the garden in which Peggy Guggenheim’s urn is interred. Despite the frivolous lawsuit. The Foundation has worked to make the name of Peggy Guggenheim and the renown of her achievements more celebrated than ever before.”

Margueritte “Peggy” Guggenheim (1898-1979) was an American art collector and the daughter of Benjamin Guggenheim who died on the Titanic. Her uncle Solomon established the Solomon R. Guggenheim Foundation.

Having organized many art exhibits around the world and establishing her own impressive collection, Guggenheim wanted her personal collection to be displayed after she died and so she bequeathed it to the Guggenheim Foundation.

The Solomon R. Guggenheim Foundation is a non profit founded in 1937 by the philanthropist for whom it is named. The Foundation is dedicated to the collection and preservation of modern art. It funds and operates many museums around the world, the most famous of which is probably the Guggenheim art museum in New York.





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