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Carlos Slim’s shiny new art house

The world's top billionaire opens a museum in Mexico City to showcase his vast collection.

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The world’s richest man, Carlos Slim, is also one of the world’s greatest collectors of art. And now his collection has a shiny new home in Mexico City.

The new Museo Soumaya, which officially opens March 28, is housed in a dramatic new 183,000 square-foot, six-story building designed by Slim’s son-in-law, Fernando Romero, and covered with 17,000 pieces of light-catching aluminum. The $34 million museum is part of Plaza Carso, a new housing and office development, financed by Slim, which is taking over a rundown part of Mexico City. Entrance will be free to the public, with all museum expenses paid by the Carlos Slim Foundation.

Slim, 71, bought his first painting in 1966, the year he married his wife Soumaya, the museum’s namesake. Since then, his success in areas as diverse as construction, mining, retail, food, printing and telecom technology have made him a business giant in Mexico, which some writers now refer to as “Slimlandia.” Slim’s vast holdings in the Mexican economy, and his near monopoly of the telecommunications industry there, have raised criticism at home and abroad. Last year, his estimated $53.5 billion fortune pushed him past Bill Gates and Warren Buffet to the position of world’s richest man.

The diverse Soumaya art collection features works from El Greco, Leonardo da Vinci, Pablo Picasso and Auguste Rodin. In addition to Mexican and European art, the collection contains a variety of pre-Columbian artifacts and documents related to the 16th-century Spanish conquest of Mexico.

Slim has credited his wife, who died of kidney problems in 1999, as the inspiration behind his interest in art. Their collection opened in a smaller building in the city in 1994.

Museo Soumaya’s opening party, held on March 1, was an extravagant affair hosted by Larry King and attended by high-profile figures like Colombian author Gabriel García Márquez, who currently lives in Mexico, and Mexican President Felipe Calderón.

“When you buy a collection, you have to exhibit it,” Slim told The Telegraph. “You have to share it.”

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  • Jon Nunn

    Sun dial, WE have progressed from stick to square; know i know we are geting some where.

  • Bloo

    Great for Mr. Slim, hopefully the brave locals would be able to enjoy it. This is a very nice gesture. Let’s hope that others follow on his footsteps given the current violent situation in Mexico. Very sad state of affairs in that beautiful country!!

  • Maria Rosa

    Nice to know a woman had inspired him so……

  • Loisyue

    …..Gates would still hold the title – but he continues to donate more of his wealth then Mr Slim…have to say tho – Slim’s Museum is open free to the public – g thx…

  • Jarmo Ylänen

    Dear Carlos Slim, I would like to visit in Mexico with my exhibition, but no money to do it. Can you invite me
    and presents my art with your an unique Soumaya Museum in Mexico City? It would be nice to show my
    art to people in Mexico with a documentary film of Tähteläiset – Meet You in Finland Angel.
    Sincerely yours, Jarmo Ylänen, Finland.