Masterpieces to be displayed at restored ‘heritage site’

A collection of priceless works of art is to be exhibited in a “Maltese heritage site” which will be restored for the purpose, according to the curator of the Malta-based Bieganski Foundation.

Bieganski’s collection reportedly includes works by Vincent van Gogh, as well as works by other masters.
Bieganski’s collection reportedly includes works by Vincent van Gogh, as well as works by other masters.

The Foundation's founder Zdzisław Bieganski, a Polish engineering tycoon and art collector, has been in the media over the past few weeks, as the 91-year-old expressed an interest in displaying his collection in Malta.

Bieganski's collection reportedly includes works by giants such as Vincent van Gogh, Pablo Picasso, Edgar Degas, Pierre-Auguste Renoir and Oskar Kokoschka as well as a selection of works by Maltese artists.

However, soon after the news was announced, Bieganski - who is a Holocaust survivor - complained that the Maltese government was being too slow in responding to his offer.

"I am 91 years old. If the government is interested, I'm available. But if they're not, I don't want them wasting my time. I don't have time to waste," Bieganski told The Times this week, adding that he would turn to the private sector if the situation doesn't show signs of speeding up.

However Ryan Pillow, speaking to MaltaToday last Thursday, said that the Foundation has had a "very successful meeting" with representatives from government, including Culture Minister Mario de Marco.

"The articles in the media helped to push things forward... the only real issue was that Mr Bieganski is 91-years-old...

"Although it's still in its early stages, we've managed to secure the full cooperation of the government, and things have speeded up suddenly," Pillow said.

Asked whether a venue has been pinned down to house the masterpieces in Bieganski's possession, Pillow said that a "Maltese heritage site" has been chosen, and that restoration works on it will commence in a month's time. Pillow however stopped short of specifying which location had been chosen.

Asked to comment on whether he had been shown Bieganski's collection, and why he didn't respond to the offer promptly, de Marco said that "the ministry was approached by Mr Bieganski who expressed an interest in discussing with government possible forms of partnership and collaboration as a result of which parts of his collection of art could be showcased in a premises to be provided by government".

"It would be premature at this stage to give additional comments," de Marco added.