Down to a Fine Art

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Nancy Heslin   Forbes Monaco

Opera Gallery marks 10 years in Monaco

Opera Gallery marks 10 years in Monaco.

It’s no secret that many of the world’s biggest and most important private collectors live in Monaco.

David Nahmad, #1284 on Forbes 2018 The World’s Billionaires, is said to have between 4,500 to 5,000 works valued at $3 billion (the 300 Picassos are worth $1 billion alone), which he owns with his brother Ezra (#1561 on Forbes2018 The World’s Billionaires).

Although only a tiny part of the Monegasque’s collection of Matisse, Monet, Renoir, and Picasso paintings is reportedly in Monaco, the rest of the modern and impressionist art is stored in a duty-free warehouse in Geneva, Switzerland.

The retired fine art dealer and cousin of the late Edmond Safra has bought over 10,000 pieces during his career, but told the local press last year, “The figures mean nothing: 10,000 works bought in 62 years is nothing exceptional.” 

What is exceptional is that Monaco’s Department of Cultural Affairs benefits from 6% of the State’s annual $1 billion budget, and it works to promote wider access to art and culture for all.

The recently formed Monaco Art Week Association, which held its inaugural event April 26 to 29 this year, aims to spotlight Monaco’s art scene at a local and international level. It involves the participation of fifteen galleries and auction houses in the Principality, including Opera Gallery at 1 avenue Henry Dunant.

Founded in Paris in 1994 by Gilles Dyan, Opera Gallery has become, throughout the years, a distinguished art network around the world. Dyan has built the group into 13 galleries—including in Paris, London and New York, as well as in Aspen, Seoul and Beirut.

Having opened its doors in 2008 across from the Hotel Hermitage, Opera Gallery Monaco has earned a reputation for discretion and service to its understandably demanding clients. It houses a permanent exhibition of modern master- pieces and contemporary art, from Picasso, Chagall, Miró, Hans Hartung and Pierre Soulages to André Brasilier, Manolo Valdés and Andy Denzler.

The Monaco gallery is also known for coordinating three dynamic solo exhibitions a year around the summer season, counting the acclaimed annual Masters Show. The success of these exhibits is thanks to Damien Simonelli, Director of Opera Gallery Monaco, who is passionate about the business.

“Monaco is home to a good number of very sophisticated collectors, making the art scene infinitely interesting,” he says. “We can assess quality and authenticity on behalf of our clients, and evaluate, exhibit, buy and sell art principally for the benefit of the collector.”

For Simonelli, being an art advisor is all about guiding the collector and helping to build and develop a collection. And with a decade of experience in Monaco behind him, he has this down to a fine art.

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Nancy Heslin   Forbes Monaco

Nancy Heslin is an established journalist and lifestyle writer. She has been the Editor-in-Chief of Forbes Monaco magazine (bimonthly in English) , since the magazine's 2nd issue . Launched in November 2018, Forbes Monaco is part of the Forbes family, with its 7 million readers and 71 million monthly website visitors worldwide.