Strabag owner buys Essl art collection

Strabag owner buys Essl art collection
Alex Katz is an American artist featured in the Essl collection. Photo: APA
Austrian news daily Die Presse has reported Tuesday that Hans Peter Haselsteiner, CEO and owner of 25 percent of the Strabag construction group, has taken the decision to buy the modern art collection from Karlheinz Essl, owner of the ailing bauMax chain of hardware stores.

Effectively, this move will be a major rescue package for the bauMax group, allowing it to stave off creditors and restructure its way out of its current financial difficulties.

The collection, which is currently valued at €160 million, has been sold for €100 million to a new firm which is 60 percent owned by the Haselsteiner family foundation, and 40 percent by the Essl family.

It is one of Europe's largest collections of modern art, with artists including Oskar Kokoschka, Hermann Nitsch, Gerhard Richter, Sam Francis and Anish Kapoor.

Previously, Essl has sought state support for the collection, which was rejected by the government despite the implication that not doing so would lead to a collapse of bauMax and the loss of thousands of jobs.

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