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Louvre Museum gets $3 million gift from eBay founder for Persian art

June 1, 2011 | 11:00 pm

Louvre Pierre Omidyar, the French-born founder and chairman of eBay, is giving $3 million to the American Friends of the Louvre that will go toward funding educational and scholarly programs on Persian art and culture at the Paris museum.

The announcement comes just a few months after Iran declared that it would cut ties with the Louvre over a dispute involving the exhibition of Persian artifacts.

Organizers said that income from the new fund will go toward projects at or in collaboration with the Louvre, including special exhibitions, installations, conferences and publications. The fund is being named after Omidyar's mother, Elahé Mir-Djalali Omidyar.

Before he gained fame through eBay, Omidyar was a computer scientist and entrepreneur. He was born in France in 1967 to parents of Iranian heritage and moved to the U.S. at an early age. Omidyar founded the company that is now eBay in 1995.

Omidyar's gift arrives at a contentious time between the Louvre and Iran. In April, the Iranian government announced that it was cutting ties with the Louvre, accusing the museum of failing to live up to an agreement to exhibit Persian artifacts in its possession in Iran.

The Louvre responded shortly thereafter saying that it had made no agreement to hold an exhibit of the artifacts in Iran. The museum's collection of Persian art is widely regarded to be one of the finest in the world.

American Friends of the Louvre is a U.S. non-profit group that works to strengthen ties between the French museum and the American public.

The $3-million gift from Omidyar will also be used to create "Elahé Mir-Djalali Omidyar Fellowships" for  scholars engaged in research and publications on Persian art and culture.

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-- David Ng

Photo (top): The Louvre Museum in Paris. Credit: Jacques Brinon / Associated Press

Photo (bottom): The Louvre Museum in Paris. Credit: Christine Osborne / Lonely Planet Images

 

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