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Le Monde: ‘French people criticize Louvre for taking donation from Yoo’

Le Monde: ‘French people criticize Louvre for taking donation from Yoo’

Posted June. 12, 2014 06:10,   

Updated January. 01, 1970 09:00

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Voices are mounting calling on the French culture community to reflect upon and atone for mistake, as the pride of French culture has been discarded due to major donations by Yoo Byeong-eon, the real owner of the sunken ferry Sewol and former chairman of the now-defunct Semo Group.

In an article entitled “Le propriétaire du « Sewol », public à Séoul, ami des musées à Paris,” the French daily Le Monde said on Wednesday that Yoo’s exhibitions at Louvre and Versailles Palace, which widely promoted Yoo, an amateur photographer in Korea with his penname "Ahae," were made possible due to his large donations. The newspaper said Yoo donated 1.1 million euros (1.57 million U.S. dollars) to Louvre in 2012, and 5 million euros (6.69 million dollars) to Versailles to support repair of "Le Théatre d`Eau" in 2013.

In return for these contributions, the marble wall at the entrance to Room 5 of the “Ancient Greece and Roma Exhibition Hall" at Louvre currently has a golden plate inscribed with “Ahae” as one of "Grand mécène." “Louvre for All,” the French online media dedicated to French museums, reported that the website of Versailles Palace also includes Ahae in the donors’ list.

“Cheonghaejin Marine Co. spent a surprisingly small amount of mere 500 euros (about 669 dollars) on safety training of its crewmembers in 2013,” Le Monde said. “Seom-na (47), Yoo’s daughter who was recently arrested by the Interpol in Paris embezzled 6 million euros (8.116 million dollars) from the coffers of a group affiliate run by her family between 2004 and 2013, and has made far-reaching efforts with her younger brother to promote photo works of their father.”

According to Le Monde, Louver Museum’s Charter of Ethics has a provision that if a donor is suspected of engaging in illegal activities or dodging obligation to pay taxes, the museum can reject the donor’s offer to donate.

In this light, the newspaper said tat if the Yoo family’s donations are found to have been made with the intent of embezzling company fund or money laundering to avoid taxes, France’s flagship museums would have their image tarnished, and could be even criticized for responsibility.

In an interview with The Dong-A Ilbo, Bernard Hasquenoph, a reporter of “Louvre for All,” said that it is a shame that the French culture community continues to advocate for and acclaim Ahae due to its own self-confidence even after the Sewol disaster, adding that there are mounting calls on authorities to remove the plate on the marble wall at Louvre and the website of Versailles Palace.