The Independent reports on the battle of wills between two art savvy women–mother and step-daughter–as they maneuver over the use of the Thyssen-Bornemisza Museums galleries:
Baroness Carmen Thyssen-Bornemisza, owner of one of Europe’s finest private art collections rivalled only by that of the Queen, has emerged victorious from a bitter feud with her stepdaughter.
The baroness has rebuffed insistent demands from Francesca von Habsburg, who is also a collector, to mount an ambitious exhibition of avant-garde contemporary works in the Thyssen-Bornemisza Museum in Madrid, on whose board the she has a deciding voice. [ . . . ]
Hostility between the two women hostility goes back decades. Francesca is married to Karl von Habsburg, grandson and heir of the deposed Austro-Hungarian emperor, Karl. She is curator of a sizeable chunk of her father’s art collection that remains in the Villa Favorita, the family seat in Lugano, Switzerland. But the baron, while alive, complained that his daughter constantly pestered him for money.
Francesca may be linked to a royal house, but the more modestly born, albeit convent-educated, baroness pulled rank to say that the museum’s trustees would show Francesca’s collection only in existing temporary exhibition rooms. Francesca said these were too small, and pulled out.
Before this latest triumph, Carmen Thyssen was last in the public eye in 2006 when she chained herself to one of the ancient trees in the leafy Paseo del Prado near the museum, a gesture of protest against an urban renewal scheme that proposed chopping down hundreds of mature trees to widen pedestrian access. She won enormous public support. At the height of Spain’s building frenzy, trees were being axed all over Madrid. Revised plans that preserved the trees emerged periodically, until recently when the town hall declared the entire scheme suspended because of the economic crisis.
Despite her ditzy manner, the baroness showed from the start she was a shrewd operator with a keen eye for good art. The baron, happy at last after four disastrous marriages, said he wished he’d met her sooner. She persuaded her husband to install his magnificent collection in Spain, in the teeth of his family’s opposition.
Victory for Baroness in Art Feud (The Independent)