Guggenheim museum challenge goes ahead: Anger over running of Venice collection

THREE grandchildren of Peggy Guggenheim, one of the greatest contemporary art collectors of the century, have won the right in the French courts to challenge the way her museum in Venice is run.

Led by Sandro Rumney, son of the British artist Ralph Rumney, the grandchildren have filed a complaint against the New York Guggenheim Museum, which runs the Venice museum as an out-station, claiming that her wishes have been disregarded. They have asked the court to remove responsibility for the museum from the New York Guggenheim unless it agrees to mend its ways.

When the grandchildren filed their complaint with the Paris Tribunal de Grande Instance at the end of 1991, the New York Guggenheim argued that the French courts were not competent to rule on the management of the Venetian museum. The argument has been rejected by the tribunal, which is now embarking on a thorough investigation of the affair.

Peggy Guggenheim, who died in 1979, had relationships with many of the major artists of her generation. Max Ernst was one of her five husbands; she had a close association with Marcel Duchamp and discovered Jackson Pollock. She ran contemporary art galleries in London and New York before retiring to Venice with her superb collection of paintings by her lovers and their friends. At her death she left the collection and her Venetian home to the New York museum founded by her uncle.

The complaint has been brought by the three sons of her daughter Pegeen, two by the French artist Jean Helion, a star of the current 'Paris Post-War' exhibition at the Tate, and one by Ralph Rumney, whose work is exhibited by England & Co in west London. They claim that much of the collection is left in store while temporary exhibits, of which Peggy would not have approved, are mounted.

The memorial that Peggy erected to her daughter, who died of a drug overdose, has been removed. It contained Pegeen's own paintings and related items. The grandchildren demand that it should be replaced.