Tuesday, April 12, 2011

NIMBY Au Francais

Bernard Arnault, the man who runs the Louis Vuitton fashion house, finds himself in a bit of a donnybrook with a local nighborhood association over the construction of a museum to house his art collection.  Arnault has begun construction of his art palace in the middle of the Bois de Boulogne Park, upon land donated by the City of Paris. According to the NY Times, local neighbors object to this intrusion and make a simple argument: "the park is intended for the public, the museum is next to a children’s playground, and the building itself violates the rules governing the park by blocking a paved roadway that should be open to the public."  This reasoning carried the day in a recent court battle.  A judge annulled the building permit with construction on the museum half-finished.

Arnault and his powerful friends frame the issue differently.  They argue that the neighbors “show a blind and pernicious individualism that goes against the general interest. They oppose any change for the sake of it. In their tight little suits, they want to put Paris in formaldehyde. It’s quite pathetic.”

The Times concludes that "this being France, and Mr. Arnault being a sort of Ozymandias, he is likely to get his pyramid anyway" - the French Parliament is in the process of overriding the court's decision and granting the museum a special waiver.

Steve Clowney


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