Thatcher’s Art Foiled by a Dog

This is from the i paper a few weeks ago, and is  a fine lesson in how the best laid plans can fail:

Previously unseen government documents show how the former Prime Minister pulled out all the stops in 1988 to persuade Swiss-based industrialist Baron Heini Thyssen-Bornemisza and his Spanish wife to bequeath their collection of masterpieces for display in a purpose-built London museum.

Papers released at the National Archives inKew recount howNeil MacGregor, then director of the National gallery, had advised Mrs Thatcher that the 1,365 works including paintings by Van Eyck, Durer, Holbein, Van Gogh, Caravaggio and Cezanne, represented “the most important private collection of paintings in the world.”

Such was Mrs Thatcher’s determination to secure the bequest that she despatched her Cabinet Secretary Robin Butler to the magnate’s Swiss villa to personally deliver Britain’s bid to house the collection. But the documents, revealed by the Art Newspaper, show how Sir Robin was stymied in his wooing of the baron and his wife, a former Miss Spain, when the baroness unexpectedly absented herself from the crucial meeting, explaining that her favourite pet dog was unwell.

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