In recent months, the question of whether cultural institutions have a responsibility to reckon with the source of a donor’s wealth has come into sharp focus. Protests against the philanthropic Sackler family’s ties to the opioid crisis and, before that, the Metropolitan Museum of Art’s relationship with fossil-fuels billionaire David Koch and Tate’s with the oil company BP have placed unprecedented scrutiny on philanthropists.
But even as the gun-control debate reaches new heights in the US after February’s massacre at a high school in Parkland, Florida, few Americans are familiar with the Berettas, the 500-year-old Italian gun manufacturing family whose current matriarch is a prominent art collector and patron.
Umberta Gnutti Beretta, the wife of 15th-generation Beretta scion and CEO Franco Beretta, has recently funded the Venice Biennale, the Poldi Pezzoli museum in Milan, and the Brescia Museums Foundation in northern Italy.
She is also an avid contemporary art collector, buying work by Vanessa Beecroft, Tracey Emin, Terry O’Neill, and David LaChapelle, among others. Two years ago, the Beretta family lent their private island on Lake Iseo to Christo to build his fabric walkway-on-water The Floating Piers (2016). Read more