“He gave me a conditioning from a young age, saying that I would be the future president of the foundation,” says Pierre Vasarely, in his office at the foundation, inaugurated in 1976, that bears his name. He works there since the 80’s and the chairs for the past ten years. This grandson Victor described as his “shadow”, besting his two sons, André and Yvaral, has had to be carried out, for nearly thirty years, a judicial combat, family, financial, to save the foundation of the bankruptcy filing, then an arbitration fraudulent, before you attempt to recover the hundreds of works that had been subtracted.
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“My father, my grandparents have been manipulated,” says Pierre Vasarely. There was the episode in Charles Debbasch, dean of the faculty of law of Aix-en-Provence that Victor had chosen as the first chairman of the foundation, but that puts the cash badly. In may 2005, the former dean is sentenced in appeal, in his absence, to two years in prison including a farm for misappropriation of works of the painter and of the fund, with an international arrest warrant because it resides in Togo.
A second fight starts after the artist’s death in 1997, compared to Michèle Taburno, the mother-in-law of Peter who had been appointed to the head of the foundation, and against his own father, Yvaral. Arbitration removes more than 400 works to the foundation, shared between the heirs.
Twenty years later, the justice shall quash the arbitration, and shall suspend, in extremis, the auction of 21 works on the 87 paid to the lawyer of the family to pay its fees. And then, in a judgment of 15 April last year, the tribunal de grande instance de Paris has ordered the lawyer, Me Yann Streiff, to restore the 87 works in the fondation Vasarely.
One last battle awaits Pierre Vasarely to get out of the imbroglio family and rebuild the foundation. He wins in 2015 when the supreme Court validates the will is written by Victor in 1993, which made him her sole legatee. Since then, he is trying to recover the approximately 400 works that are still scattered throughout the world.
2019, the year of the fighting to finish
in Parallel to the legal troubles and family, the coast of the master of the opt art is degraded. “In the 70s, Picasso and Vasarely had the same monetary value,” explains her grandson, who sees a number of reasons, in addition to the legal saga, to this dislike. Vasarely had been “indispensable for twenty years, then the movement of the kinetic art disappears from the radar”. And Vasarely sulks in addition museums and art dealers… that he make it well.
“If someone had told me at his death twenty years later, I am still fighting, I would have said no”
At the consecration of the 70s, followed by years of decline. The odds of the painter decreases, museums and galleries are conspiring against him. “During all these years, it owes its salvation to exhibitions abroad”, points out Pierre Vasarely. In Aix, the foundation and the works it houses, falling into a near dilapidated state. “If someone had told me at his death twenty years later, I am still fighting, I would have said no,” admits today Pierre Vasarely. “But I’m the only one who can lead the struggle for the foundation and for his work.”
2019 is for Pierre Vasarely year of fighting to finish, and also new projects to launch. In the immediate future, after the retrospective at Beaubourg, which has received 5,000 people a day, the Vasarely foundation has established a partnership with the paris museum. It will host, in June, two dozen works in the collections of the centre Pompidou.
The classification of the foundation to the historical monuments in 2013 has enabled the renovation of the 5,000 M2 of the building of aix, which were completed in February. Inside, 41 monumental works, “Integrations”, have, also, begun to be restored. End of the project, scheduled for 2020, a year before the extension work of the foundation. Built on 1.000 m2 in the basement, a new space is intended to accommodate “the great works of contemporary art from artists who recognize themselves in the work of Vasarely,” says his descendant.