Venetian cultural center sold by Fiat

Oct. 15, 2004 at 12:23 PM
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VENICE, Italy, Oct. 15 (UPI) -- Palazzo Grassi, one of the finest buildings on Venice's grand canal that served as a cultural center for 17 years, has been sold by financially troubled Fiat.

Italian Minister of Culture Giuliano Urbani said Friday the building was sold by the automobile company to the Venice City Council for $31 million.

Fiat announced the end of its sponsorship at exhibitions at the 18th century palace, once the home of the Grassi family, last year and its final show there is the current Salvador Dali exhibition to run through Jan. 16. Fiat said it could no longer support programs there because the town council had limited use of the premises to cultural purposes.

The palace had been modernized 20 years ago by internationally celebrated architect Gae Aulenti. Urbani said that from now on its cultural program will be conducted by a non-profit company composed of the Casino di Venezia, which is owned by the town council, and possibly the Fondazione di Venezia, a bank foundation that is interested in becoming a project partner of the casino.

Fiat will retain a 10 percent share of the enterprise, Urbani said.

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