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August 28, 2014

Banker's $100-Million Museum Sows Discord in Spanish Town

A $106-million museum being built by the head of Santander, Spain's largest bank, is lifting economic expectations in the seaside city of the same name but also drawing criticism and legal challenges over its location on prime, publicly owned waterfront land, writes The New York Times. Designed by Renzo Piano and set to open next year, the Centro Botín represents the largest private cultural investment in the country.

The center is being fully funded by the foundation of Emilio Botín III, the third-generation president of family-owned Banco Santander, and will house the family's collection of contemporary art. While local officials characterize the museum as a gift to Santander that could boost tourism a la the Guggenheim Museum in Bilbao, opponents contend Mr. Botín and the bank are exploiting the city's scenic waterfront for private ego and corporate branding.