François-Henri Pinault Salma Hayek François Pinault

TOP HONORS: The Italian government has honored François Pinault for his support for Italian luxury brands and his contributions to the art world, namely through his Palazzo Grassi and Punta della Dogana contemporary art museums in Venice.

Italy’s ambassador to France Giandomenico Magliano on Thursday made the French business titan a grand officer of the Order of the Star of Italy on behalf of Italian president Sergio Mattarella.

The award recognizes Pinault’s efforts to develop brands such as Gucci, Bottega Veneta, Brioni and Pomellato, which belong to Kering, the luxury conglomerate he founded and which is now headed by his son François-Henri Pinault. The businessman is also a major art collector.

In 2005, Pinault — who also owns auction house Christie’s — ditched plans to build a private museum to house his art collection on the Île Seguin in Boulogne-Billancourt, southwest of Paris, after the project became mired in red tape.

His decision to showcase the works at Palazzo Grassi was seen as a major blow to the French capital’s cultural prestige. The multimillionaire has patched up relations with Paris officials and earlier this year announced plans to showcase part of his art collection at the Bourse de Commerce.

The 150,000-square-foot building is in the center of Paris near the newly refurbished Forum des Halles shopping center, and in a neighborhood that is being transformed.

The 18th-century building boasts a cupola that is listed as a historical monument. Paul Smith and Lanvin have used it for shows during Men’s Fashion Week here. The Pinault family, under the umbrella of family holding company Artémis, is to be the holder of a 50-year lease.

Works are to start in early 2017 and the museum’s opening is slated for end of 2018. LVMH Moët Hennessy Louis Vuitton chief executive officer Bernard Arnault opened his Fondation Louis Vuitton, a striking art museum on the leafy fringes of Paris, in October 2014.