Luxury tycoon Arnault to revamp Paris museum

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PARIS (Reuters) - French luxury goods tycoon Bernard Arnault is expanding his art museum empire with plans to renovate a disused public building near his Louis Vuitton Foundation on the outskirts of Paris.

The Musee National des Arts et Traditions Populaires, built in 1972 but sitting vacant since 2005, is to be turned into a arts and crafts center in a 158 million euros ($167 million) revamp by architect Frank Gehry.

Arnault, who controls luxury group LVMH, told a news conference alongside President Francois Hollande, Paris Mayor Anne Hidalgo and Gehry that he viewed the new project as a “cultural start-up”.

“We will bring new life to a building that has been sleeping for some time. It will create a great cultural hub and a good partner to the Foundation,” Gehry added.

Named “La Maison LVMH/Arts-Talents-Patrimoine”, the renovated building will host concert and exhibition halls and workshops after it opens in 2020.

LVMH will pay a fixed annual fee of 150,000 euros, plus a portion of revenue generated, under a 50 year-concession from the City of Paris.

Paris officials last year renewed LVMH’s concession for the Jardin d’Acclimatation amusement park behind the disused museum site, opening the way for a renovation of the garden and its attractions.

LVMH, which has managed the park since 1984, holds an 80 percent stake in a partnership with Compagnie des Alpes, a theme parks and ski resorts developer. The concession contract runs for 25 years.

The announcement comes as Francois Pinault, the founder of rival luxury group Kering, is due to open a museum in the city’s Bourse du Commerce building at the end of next year to display works from his art collection.

Reporting by Dominique Vidalon; Editing by Andrew Callus and Alison Williams