It's not the first time a museum has taken the field to block the auction of works considered essential for the national artistic heritage: the Louvre has suspended the sale of a still life by Chardin, sold at an auction organized by Artcurial.
On March 23rd in Paris, at an auction organized by Artcurial and Cabinet Turquin, a work by the French painter Jean-Baptiste-Siméon Chardin (1699-1779), known for his still lifes, was sold.
Initially estimated at €12-15m, US dealer Adam Williams sold the work for a remarkable €24.3m (inclusive of tax), representing a record for the 18th-century artist.
Jean-Baptiste-Siméon Chardin, Cestino di Fragole di Bosco, 1761.© Artcurial.
Immediately after the sale, the Louvre blocked the painting's export to the United States, declaring Chardin's work a ''national treasure'' that deserves to be displayed within the famous museum by leveraging its right of first refusal. However, the Louvre does not currently have the funds necessary to purchase the work, as the institution's annual budget for purchasing new works of art is around €7 million. According to French law, the museum has two years to reach the amount sufficient to buy the work.
The director of the Louvre, Laurence des Cars, told the newspaper Le Figaro, of her determination to reach, also through sponsorship and fundraising initiatives, the sum necessary to acquire and exhibit the work in the renowned halls of the Parisian museum.