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What does it take to become a world-class art collector? These days, you need to build not only a great collection, but a great museum to house it in. Over the past few years, a rash of art-loving billionaires have dedicated themselves, or their foundations, to the construction of spectacular new venues to show off their finest acquisitions.
The trend began in earnest in 2006, when the French billionaire François Pinault, the primary shareholder of the luxury conglomerate now called Kering, converted an 18th-century Venetian palace, the Palazzo Grassi, into a showplace for contemporary art. The site has since added two other structures, Punta della Dogana and the Teatrino, both designed by the Japanese architect Tadao Ando. Meanwhile, Bernard Arnault, the richest man in France and the chairman of the luxury conglomerate LVMH, was busy developing his own idea for a museum, which finally arrived last month, in Paris, in the form of Frank Gehry’s glass-paneled Fondation Louis Vuitton.