Recently, the Gulbenkian Foundation in Lisbon, which was set up by the Armenian oil magnate, Calouste Gulbenkian, who left much of his art collection to the Portuguese state, celebrated its 50th anniversary and, to mark the occasion, the CTT (Portugal’s postal service) has issued a collection of commemorative stamps.
The Jewish billionaire, also known as Mr Five Per Cent because of the cut he took on each barrel of oil produced from his wells, was living in a mansion in Paris when the Nazis rolled in, in June 1940. Gulbenkian escaped the horrors of the Holocaust because he was given political asylum in Portugal by António de Oliveira Salazar, and, in gratitude, bequeathed a large part of his artistic collection to the country.
The CTT celebratory issue contains six postable stamps and four commemorative collectors’ ones, valued from 30 cents to two euro denominations – each one depicting a key piece from the collection.
The official launch of the stamps, which was attended by Prime Minister José Sócrates and President Cavaco Silva last week, took place before the actual 50th anniversary ceremony.
During the ceremony, Cavaco Silva said: “The Gulbenkian had represented a cultural oasis and beacon to modernism during the past 50 years, always anticipating changes in the country over that period.”
The President added that the Gulbenkian, as an institution, had transformed the country because it had promoted debate and the discussion of ideas – cultural, social and political – while establishing links with the outside world.
The President of the Gulbenkian Foundation, Rui Vilar, guaranteed that the foundation was “financially secure for the foreseeable future”, while being prepared for “innovation and change”, and promised that the Gulbenkian would continue to be “an institution of reference”.