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Foundation Louis Vuitton lands top art collection showing

media Foundation Louis Vuitton, designed by American architect Frank Gehry, at its official opening on 27 October, 2014 Reuters/Benoit Tessier

One of the world's greatest private collections of modern art is to go display in its entirety this October at the Foundation Louis Vuitton in Paris, according to French news agency AFP. Experts are calling it a major coup for the newly-opened gallery.

The news means the collection of more than 250 paintings put together by super-rich collector Sergei Shchukin before the Russian revolution will be seen for the first time outside Russia. Shchukin is said to have filled his Moscow mansion with some of the finest French Impressionist and Post-Impressionist art, making a kind of Orthodox altar in one room with 16 of Gauguin's Tahiti paintings. But his trove of 50 top-notch Picassos, 38 works by Matisse, 13 Monets, eight Cezannes and four Van Goghs that the textile merchant picked up on business trips to Paris, was seized after the October Revolution in 1917.

"This is a historic event which will have people coming from all over the world, something we are not likely to see again for a while," said Jean-Paul Claverie, an advisor to the luxury goods tycoon Bernard Arnault, who opened the private Foundation Vuitton at the end of 2014.

Claverie confirmed that the costs involved in taking the Shchukin collection abroad were probably beyond the reach of many of the world's top museums.

The exhibition is the fruit of years of negotiations between LVMH boss Arnault and the Russian authorities, with a partnership agreement signed on Wednesday between the foundation and the Hermitage Museum in St Petersburg and Moscow's Pushkin museum at the Russian foreign ministry.

The paintings will go on display in the spectacular building designed by the architect Frank Gehry on 20 October, with the "Icons of Modern Art" show running until 20 January.


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