Recently, an American couple, Spencer and Marlene Hays received the Légion d’honneur in thanks for the priceless gift of 600 19th-century French masterpieces to the musée d’Orsay. Spencer said, “Art belongs to no one. We were simply the temporary guardians and were delighted to have been.”
The director of the musée d’Orsay has been in negotiations to bring the vast collection back to France for some years now. Apparently, the tipping point was that more Americans would see the collection if it was in Paris than in the United States! Long live cultural tourism.
Although some key pieces of the collection were already loaned to the museum in 2013, the collection will only be transferred to the d’Orsay upon the death of the generous couple. Un don (uhn dohn) means “a gift” and I would sure like to be on the Hays’ Christmas list. I’ve got a spot over the fireplace that would be just perfect for a Caillebotte – if they’ve got any left.