The Mona Lisa by Leonardo da Vinci should be sold to Jeff Bezos or an Arab Prince for 50 billion EUR to help deal with the unfolding economic crisis, according to a top French businessman.
Stephane Distinguin, 46, the founder and CEO of the international tech company, Fabernovel, made the demand in a piece published in the French magazine Usbek & Rica.
Distinguin believes that the Mona Lisa should be sold to raise funds to counter the economic crisis triggered by the coronavirus pandemic.
He says: “Day after day, we list the billions engulfed in this slump like children counting the fall of a stone into a well to measure its depth. We are still counting, and this crisis seems unfathomable.
“As an entrepreneur and a taxpayer, I know that these billions are not invented and that they will necessarily cost us. An obvious reflex is to sell off a valuable asset at the highest price possible, but one that is the least critical as possible to our future.
“A painting is easy to move and therefore to hand over. And we have a lot of paintings. Besides, how many visitors to the Louvre and admirers of its Mona Lisa take the time to contemplate in the same room The Wedding at Cana, by Veronese, with its 67 square metres and 130 characters?
“In 2020, we have to get the money where it is. So sell family jewellery. Otherwise, only the Googles, Apples, Facebooks, Amazons, Microsofts, Disneys, Netflixs, Alibabas and Tencents of this world will be able to contribute to the funding of culture.”
Discussing how much he believes the painting would fetch, he said: “The price is the crux of the matter and the main subject of controversy. The price has to be insane for the operation to make sense. I estimate that it would take no less than 50 billion EUR (44.7 billion GBP) to acquire the Mona Lisa. I was told that my estimate was very overvalued, even far-fetched, but each time without real arguments.”
He also suggests “tokenising” the Mona Lisa by creating a blockchain like Bitcoin so that parties can easily exchange the painting. He said: “Since 2014, technology has advanced and it opens up new paths. The blockchain and cryptocurrency community quickly came to my rescue. We could consider ‘tokenising’ the Mona Lisa, it would be a question of creating a digital representation of an asset on a blockchain.
“Even more schematically, it would be a bit like creating a currency whose underlying asset would be our painting in order to allow management and peer-to-peer exchange, instantly and securely. Contemporary artists – street artists in particular, for whom the sale of a work of art comes with many obstacles – have already taken advantage of this device to monetise their work.
“It would be like a big global subscription. Legally and technically, this solution would have many advantages: it would allow France and the Louvre to keep control of the painting. One can even imagine that this ploy would garner the assent of the great Leonardo da Vinci, he who painted but also mastered all the sciences and technologies of his time.”
He added: “For the richest man in the world, Jeff Bezos, 50 billion, is only a third of his fortune, barely more than the amount paid to his wife in connection with his recent divorce. Why not rename our work Mona Lisa del Giocondo-Bezos?”
Stephane Distinguin is a French businessman and tech entrepreneur who founded Fabernovel in France in 2003. Distinguin was awarded the Legion d’Honneur, France’s highest order of merit, in 2019.
The Mona Lisa is a portrait painting by Italian artist Leonardo da Vinci. It is widely considered to be the archetypal masterpiece of the Italian Renaissance.
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