France should sell Mona Lisa ‘for €50bn’ to cover coronavirus losses, tech CEO suggests

Suggestion was made by Stephane Distinguin, who also proposed exchanging painting between nations using a new form of crypto-currency

Adam White
Tuesday 19 May 2020 12:22 BST
The Mona Lisa voted the world’s most disappointing tourist attraction by Britons

France could make up for its financial losses amid the coronavirus pandemic by selling the Mona Lisa, a tech CEO has suggested.

Stephane Distinguin, the founder of tech company Fabernovel, made the suggestion in a magazine interview, explaining that France should “sell the family jewellery” for at least €50 billion (£44.7 billion).

“Day after day, we list the billions engulfed in this slump like children counting the fall of a stone into a well to measure its depth,” Distinguin told Usbek & Rica Magazine. “We are still counting, and this crisis seems unfathomable.”

“As an entrepreneur and a taxpayer, I know that these billions are not invented and that they will necessarily cost us. An obvious reflex is to sell off a valuable asset at the highest price possible, but one that is the least critical as possible to our future.”

He continued: “A painting is easy to move and therefore to hand over. And we have a lot of paintings … In 2020, we have to get the money where it is. So sell family jewellery … The price is the crux of the matter and the main subject of controversy. The price has to be insane for the operation to make sense. I estimate that it would take no less than €50billion (£44.7 billion) to acquire the Mona Lisa. I was told that my estimate was very overvalued, even far-fetched, but each time without real arguments.”

Distinguin also suggested that the Mona Lisa could be “tokenised”, with a form of crypto-currency allowing the painting to be easily exchanged between nations.

“It would be like a big global subscription,” he explained. “Legally and technically, this solution would have many advantages: it would allow France and the Louvre to keep control of the painting. One can even imagine that this ploy would garner the assent of the great Leonardo da Vinci, he who painted but also mastered all the sciences and technologies of his time.”

In 2019, the Louvre commenced work on a virtual reality programme that would allow visitors to experience da Vinci’s Mona Lisa up close and away from the crowds of tourists at the world-famous gallery.

The painting was also dubbed the world’s most disappointing tourist attraction in April 2019, according to a survey conducted by Easyjet customers.

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