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Art books: a market increasingly desired by luxury billionaires?

After leather goods, hospitality or winemaking, art book publishing seems to be ever more sought after by luxury groups. The latest buyback of the publishing house Citadelles & Mazenod by LVMH highlights this trend.

Béatrice Peyrani

By Béatrice Peyrani14 septembre 2021

The publishing house Citadelles & Mazenod which has just been bought by the LVMH group (Sabine Artl & Olaf Meyer)

The recent purchase of the small (4,8 million euros of yearly turnover ) but prestigious publishing house Citadelles & Mazenod by the LVMH group, the largest luxury group worldwide, opens a legitimate question.

Indeed, when Bernard Arnault enters a new sector, its means and methods are often transformed for good. Champagne, cognac, perfumes, leather goods, these crafts that have known a before and an after LVMH period. Furthermore, the largest luxury group worldwide already has a foot in art publishing. In 2013, Bernard Arnault bought back 9.5% of shares in the Madrigal holding (which owns Gallimard and Flammarion), but also owns the monthly Connaissance des Arts. The latter is an actor in cultural politics, including its low-priced art book collection In Fine, launched with the group Les Echos-Le Parisien (the LVMH media pole) and its association with the Salon du Dessin and Fine Arts Paris. By acquiring Citadelles & Mazenod publishing, the first luxury group worldwide holds the iconic brand of great aficionados and art collectors worldwide.

Increasingly luxurious publishing

Indeed, the former President of the French Republic Jacques Chirac, great art aficionado, had one of the main pieces of Citadelles & Mazenod on his bedside table, despite its 600 pages, L’Art Africain, partly written by his friend Jacques Kerchache who convinced him to create the future Quai Branly Museum, inaugurated in 2006 and renamed in 2016 Musée Jacques Chirac. Citadelles & Mazenod’s influence is significant in the French cultural landscape.

The Bayeux Tapestry with its leporello, an accordion book that allows you to unfold the entire 32-metre reproduction of the embroidery, published by Citadelles & Mazenod (DR)

Created in 1936, the house counts no less than 160 references in its catalog (sold between 200 and 890 euros) with its collections such as L’Art et les grandes civilisations (50 volumes), and unique collections such as Les Phares, a set of monographies about major artists (17 volumes) or spectacular books in limited editions, such as La Tapisserie de Bayeux, with its Ieporello, an accordion book that unfolds into the reenactment of the 32-meter embroidery, half the size of the original at the Bayeux museum, or even Kuniyoshi, Le Codex Borbonicus. Pierre Louette, Chairman and CEO of the group Les Echos-Le Parisien explains: “With Citadelles & Mazenod, our acquisition strategy continues to always strengthen our strong features, as we extend our purpose to diffuse the best cultural and artistic content to a wider public.”

Could this declaration launch the kick-off of a series of buybacks in the sector, specifically for high-end products?

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