On March 4, at the fourth auction that was announced by the Property Management Agency, the building of St. Mikheil Hospital on Agmashenebeli in Tbilisi was sold for 16 million GEL. The building was bought by Hansi Ltd, the owner of which is Shalva Breus, a Georgian businessman working in Russia. The buyer had no bidders at the auction because the project was intended for a cultural purpose from the very beginning and was not commercially interesting for businessmen.
The investor intends to build a museum of modern art on the territory and is intended to be not only a museum in the classical sense but also a “new modern center of culture,” which will be equipped with educational, scientific, exhibition and leisure facilities, a library and publishing house, for which an investment of at least 30 million GEL will be made over five years.
Shalva Breus is known among contemporary art lovers around the world as an expert in contemporary art, a member of the jury of numerous international competitions, including the Marcel Duchamp Prize, Guerlain Painting and Graphics Awards, publisher, collector, and philanthropist. His collection of contemporary paintings, the core of which is the works of German Expressionists, is also world-renowned. His collection is rich in contemporary Georgian paintings. Breus founded an International Foundation of his own name, which established the Kandinsky Prize, along with the British Turner Prize and the French Marcel Duchamps Prize, representing the top three awards in the world of contemporary art.
The businessman, along with the world’s leading specialists, has long been working on unique projects of the Museum of Contemporary Art. The selection of a place for the museum has been going on for years. Architecturally interesting places and monuments of Venice, Moscow, Brussels, and Tbilisi were discussed, but Breus ultimately chose Tbilisi. “I was born and raised in Georgia, I love Georgia, I love art and the emotion of crossing these two vectors, and so decided to implement the project in Tbilisi,” Breus said.
Shalva Breus has implemented a number of charitable projects in Georgia, including the restoration of the Nevsky Church in Abastumani and the saving of unique frescoes painted by Nesterov; Construction of the Holy Trinity Church Complex on Trinity Mountain in Batumi, which has already become a niche of the city and due to which it was awarded by the Catholicos-Patriarch of Georgia with the highest ecclesiastical order, the Cross of St. George. His name is also associated with the restoration of the lost tradition of church mosaic in Georgia. Since the Museum of Art will be non-profitable, this project has a purely social and cultural importance, which envisages the realization of a space for education, scientific, research, publishing, exhibitions and leisure in a unified system.
The project foresees maintaining the appearance of the historical monument of Mikhailov Hospital and the greenness of the adjoining historic park. The author of the project intends to solve this difficulty by involving the world’s leading architects in a competition. The competition has already been announced, and a group of the most authoritative and best architects in the world are set visit Georgia to learn about the facility on the spot and start working on the design for the Museum of Contemporary Art.
“The building itself should also be a work of art,” says Shalva Breus.