Culture announces the purchase of the Lafuente Archive without revealing the amount

Culture announces the purchase of the Lafuente Archive without revealing the amount

The businessman and collector José María Lafuente shows some documents from his collection / Javier Cotera

In 2021, the State spent almost six million euros on the purchase of more than a hundred works for public museums

The Ministry of Culture can already close the purchase of the Lafuente Archive, once it has a favorable report from the Board of Qualification, Valuation and Export of Historical Heritage Assets. This body, which turns one hundred years old, held a commemorative meeting on Wednesday attended by the head of Culture, Miquel Iceta, who announced the purchase "very soon" of the Lafuente collection without specifying its amount.

The board also reported the investment of almost 6 million euros in the purchase of fifty works that have been incorporated into 21 museums and public institutions.

Unique in its kind, the Lafuente Archive was created in 2002 by the Galician businessman based in Cantabria, José María Lafuente. Provisionally deposited in Santander, it brings together documentary collections on modern and contemporary art. With more than 120,000 items, it includes photos, letters, manuscripts, manifestos, books, magazines, posters, drawings, graphic art, artist's books, photobooks, performance documentation, fanzines or graphic design models.

Its acquisition was agreed by the Board of Trustees of the Reina Sofía Museum. Its director, Manuel Borja-Villel, was interested in buying the documentary base as early as 2014. He then said that its value was "incalculable", that it was "the most important private archive in Europe" and that with it, the museum it would be “a documentary reference of the museography of Latin America”.

“It is very difficult to put a number on the file,” said Iceta, avoiding giving details about the collector's economic demands. Still, he said "we don't pay for it all." “If we had to pay those 130,000 pieces one by one, there would be no money in the General State Budgets. It costs a lot to value a work of art,” said Iceta.

Duplicate investment

In 2021, the State invested 5,963,383 euros in the acquisition of more than fifty works for public collections, a figure that almost doubles that of 2020. The paintings, sculptures, furniture, documentary and bibliographic collections or installations have been incorporated into fifteen museums, three archives, the National Library of Spain and National Heritage.

The highest item was allocated to the purchase of 'Crucifixion', by El Greco, for 1.5 million euros. It is the first incorporation of a work by the artist to the collections of the Museo del Greco in Toledo since its foundation in 1910.

652,584.40 euros were spent on works for the Reina Sofía Museum. Among them, works by Santiago Rusiñol, Susana Solano, Pepe Espaliú, Manuela Ballester, or Eduardo Arroyo. On the walls of the Reina Sofía hangs 'Bust of a young woman', by Picasso, which has become the property of the State after a judicial process in which the role of the Board was decisive. For the Prado Museum, 600,814.26 euros were allocated, with the purchase of pieces such as 'En voyage' by Goya or the panel 'Santa Ana con la Virgen y el Niño', by Juan de Juanes.

'San José con el Niño' by Francisco Salzillo and 'San Jerónimo' by Juan de Juni were purchased for the Valladolid Sculpture Museum. The Museum of America, which incorporates pieces of colonial art, including the 'Virgin of the Apocalypse' by Nicolás Enríquez or the series of coppers of the Virgin Mary by Joaquín Magón.

The Museum of Decorative Arts received more than a hundred pieces that complete its collection of 20th-century furniture by Spanish authors. Among them, the Jorge Oteiza chair, made in the 1950s. Also lots of furniture from the 1930s and pieces by designers such as Paco Muñoz, Miguel Milá, Luis and Javier Feduchi or Carlos Picardo.

The Santiago Pilgrimage Museum received a work by Mergolo from 1777, the 'Immaculate Conception with God the Father, Santiago the Apostle and allegory of the Kingdom of Spain'. 'Portrait of a woman' by Benjamín Palencia was purchased for the Museum of Albacete.

documentary heritage

The funds of the National Library were increased with documentary pieces worth 241,023.13 euros. Among them, a 'Breviary' made in Castile in 1598; a Mercator 'Atlas of Europe' dated 1595; or an apograph manuscript of Francisco Quevedo's letters from prison.

Among the acquisitions of documentary heritage is that of the personal archive of Joaquín Costa (1846-1911), in which his correspondence with Emilia Pardo Bazán or Benito Pérez Galdós stands out.

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