ARNAULT WINS BID FOR FRENCH ART JOURNAL

Byline: Katherine Weisman

PARIS — In the battle of the billionaires, this round went to Bernard Arnault.
Arnault’s LVMH Group emerged victorious in the quest for Connaissance des Arts, the leading art journal that had been sought by Francois Pinault. This confirms a report in WWD last week that Arnault had outbid Pinault for the prestigious fine-arts monthly with distribution of about 38,000.
Sources close to the negotiations said LVMH paid about $3.7 million, at current exchange rates, for the French title, slightly below the reported $4 million selling price mentioned last week because of Pinault’s dropping out of the running.
Connaissance des Arts has an interesting fit with Arnault’s recent forays into the auction business. Arnault owns Phillips auction house in London and more recently acquired France’s largest auctioneer, Etude Tadjan. Rival Pinault owns Christie’s.
Arnault’s auction holdings and the purchase of Connaissance des Arts had some in Paris wondering whether he would launch a bid for Sotheby’s. But sources indicate he is not looking at the property, given the high risk related to the current price-fixing investigation surrounding both Christie’s and Sotheby’s.
Most expect the publication will lend itself to representation on the Web. Arnault’s $500 million Europ@web fund has already invested heavily in Internet firms.

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