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15 July 2021
Standardising management and restoring financial balance
The Institute and the academies operate freely and are financially independent under the
sole control of the Court of Auditors. Honouring for the second time the mandate it is set by
law, the Court again examined the management of the Quai de Conti institutions and the
use of their heritage between 2014 to 2020.
In its previous report, released in 2015, the Court noted a worrying situation in many
respects. Since then, progress has been made in some areas. However, this progress remains
limited and the movement to restore order is recent. The Quai de Conti institutions are now
faced with an unbalanced financial situation. The Court makes 19 recommendations.
Fragmented governance
The Institute and the academies form a unique group of institutions, serving important
scientific, cultural, philanthropic and advisory missions. The Institute and the academies are
separate legal entities, but are linked to each other. This interdependence is reflected in the
role of the Institute of France which is responsible for managing a number of support functions
for the group (finances, human resources management, etc.) as well as its own assets.
However, the Institute’s integration of management functions is still inadequate because of
the reluctance of the academies, which set great store by their autonomy. The collective
organisation of this group of institutions appears, moreover, confused and dated, with a
multitude of stakeholders and bodies, sometimes with poorly defined functions, and a large
number of layers that have stacked up over time in the decision-making process. Already
requested by the Court during its previous audits, further integration and pooling of the
support functions is necessary in order to professionalise the management of the Quai de
Conti institutions.
Insufficiently professionalised management
Despite recent efforts to restore order, the full impact of which has yet to be felt, the Court
identifies all kinds of weaknesses in the way in which the Quai de Conti institutions manage
donations and bequests and run themselves. This ongoing management is a concern. Among
the foundations sheltered by the Institute and the academies, just over a thousand in 2019,
many of the oldest are today subject to escheat. Clarification work is necessary as well as
greater selectivity when accepting gifts.
The management of the Institute’s and academies’ exceptional real estate assets is also
suffering from an administration which is still insufficiently qualified and equipped. Two
prestigious operations, the acquisition of a building at 17 quai de Conti and the construction
of the auditorium, were carried out for approximately €46
M, of which nearly €25 M was to
be paid by the Institute, while, at the same time, restoration work on the Conti Palace (at an
estimated cost of around €25 M) was not carried out.
A recent report from the heritage
inspectorate of the French Ministry of Culture, conducted at the Institute’s request,
highlighted the poor archiving management and the fire risks of the storage areas in the Conti
An exceptional artistic and cultural heritage, partly neglected
The Institute and the academies possess an exceptional cultural heritage, mainly gathered
together in eighteen sites open to the public or of heritage interest. Some sites, such as the
Giverny house and gardens or the Marmottan Monet museum, are maintained and operated
in an exemplary manne
r. However, much of the Institute’s and academies’ cultural heritage
has been neglected for several decades, through lack of resources or attention, which is
particularly the case as regards the Villa Éphrussi in Saint-Jean-Cap-Ferrat (Alpes-Maritimes),
the Kerazan manor house (Finistère) and the Chaalis Estate (Oise)
Collection valuation and
conservation issues and, more generally, those related to museums and other cultural
heritage sites are addressed very differently depending on the organisation responsible for
them. It is essential that, in the future, professional standards and scientific conservation
obligations which should be attached to the heritage of the Institute and the academies are
more systematically respected.
An unbalanced financial position
Due to the lack of timely maintenance and restoration work on their historical heritage, the
Institute and the academies are now faced with an “investment wall”.
The lack of genuine financial solidarity among the Quai de Conti institutions distorts the
assessment that each may have of their own and the Institute’s situation. The Institute must,
in fact, assume the operating costs of the support functions it manages for the academies and
which the reimbursements made by the academies are far from covering. It also has to cover,
by itself, the expenditure to be incurred on its many museums and the Conti Palace, even
though the palace houses not only the Institute but also the academies. The funding mismatch
can be ass
essed, for the Institute, at around €54 million over the next five years, including €25
million for the renovation work to be undertaken on the Conti Palace. It would be unrealistic
to think that this mismatch only concerns the Institute, because of the interdependence
between the Quai de Conti institutions.
The Institute and the academies must thoroughly reconsider their financial strategy in order
to free up the necessary resources for the professionalisation of their management and the
maintenance of their artistic and cultural heritage.
The State has just provided exceptional and significant support to the Chantilly Estate (at least
M) to cover the consequences of the health crisis and the withdrawal of the Aga Khan.
Such support is a major change from the rule that the Institute and the academies, which are
very richly endowed, are supposed to meet their borrowing requirements from the income of
their assets. The State’s exceptional support highlights, if proof were necessary, the urgent
need for the Institute and the academies to reform their management.
Read the report
Emmanuel Kessler
Communication Director
01 42 98 55 62
Cour des comptes
Cour des comptes