At her death in 2017, art collector Gilberte Ghesquière bequeathed 131 artworks to the KMSKA, along with 1.26 million euros to manage her estate. However, it is claimed that only 11,500 euros of that money has been spent on the collection.
Gilberte Ghesquière was an art collector and the widow of a wealthy diamond merchant John Lens living in Antwerp. She was a loyal visitor and supporter of the KMSKA. She passed away at the age of 92 at the end of 2017. In 2010, she already decided to donate her 131 artworks (mostly works on paper),including pieces by Degas, Lipchitz, Keith Haring and many other known artists to the museum after her death. In addition, there was the amount of 1.26 million euros to be used for “the conservation, restoration, research, presentation, and enhancement of my art collection”, as stated in Gilberte’s will.
According to Jan Ceuleers, an antiquarian and writer involved in art historical research, the money has been improperly used by the KMSKA. According to Mr. Ceuleers, only a small portion was used for Gilberte’s collection. Documents provided for by the museum state that only about 90,000 euros of the total amount remained end of December 2022. Of the more than 1.2 million euros, only 11,500 euros were allegedly spent on the conservation and restoration of Gilberte’s collection. The rest is said to have been allocated to other works in the museum and other expenses, such as research projects and publications.
In a reaction the KMSKA confirms that the majority of the resources have been used for conservation, restoration, presentation, and research for the KMSKA collection, just as Mrs. Ghesquière intended. She had been supporting the museum in this manner for quite some time before her passing. She extensively discussed her testamentary disposition with the KMSKA. In September, the museum will open an exhibition entirely dedicated to the Lens-Ghesquière bequest. The KMSKA collection consists of over 40% legacies and donations. We regret the incorrect reporting in certain newspapers on this matter, as it inevitably causes damage to the museum.
Image © Ben De Voeght
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