Yvon Lambert had made this decision twenty years ago, but it was just recently formalised on 18 November 2011. He almost abandoned the plan due to administrative sluggishness.
In a statement to the AFP, Lambert explained: “In France, it isn’t easy to give a collection. Examples of failed meetings between the State and major collectors are plentiful in our art history”. He also stated that he had been discouraged by the lack of interest and ignorance shown by some. Moreover, he wanted to ensure that his collection would have an exhibition space worthy of the works it would be displaying. The collection has been stored at the Hôtel de Caumont in Avignon under the supervision of Mr. Mézil. During last autumn, the State agreed to have the exhibition space expanded to include the Hôtel Montfaucon, currently the School of Fine Arts in Avignon, adjacent to the Hôtel Caumont. The €8M required to turn the school into a museum will be provided by the State. Construction is expected to last until 2015. The opening will take place in the presence of French President François Hollande. Yvon Lambert’s donation is the largest of its kind to the French State since Étienne Moreau-Nélaton’s gift to the Louvre Museum in 1906, which included a few masterpieces by Delacroix, Corot, Manet, Monet, Renoir, and Géricault.
Over the course of fifty years, the art dealer gathered around 550 works by artists such as Jean-Michel Basquiat, Bertrand Lavier, Cy Twombly, Robert Ryman, Sol LeWitt, Nan Goldin, Daniel Buren, Christian Boltanski, Douglas Gordon, Andres Serrano, Anselm Kiefer, and Miquel Barceló.