Palazzo Butera, Palermo

in partnership with Master in Arts Management - SDA Bocconi MAMA

28-30 June 2023




"European Collectors as Patrons" is a three-day masterclass on how patronage supports and defends artistic and cultural activity.


Bertrand du Vignaud and Claudio Gulli will show how over the last three centuries, a range of historical and current European patrons have been advocates for art and culture through the construction of their own private collections. These little-known individuals have contributed both to social progress and to urban development. Some examples include Roman Cardinals Alessandro Albani and Pietro Ottoboni, English amateur-architects Lord Burlington and Sir John Soane, and the Spanish Count Alexandre Aguado. More recently we can name Harry Kessler, Vittorio Cini and Calouste Gulbenkian.

Professors Andrea Rurale and Piergiacomo Mion, of the SDA Bocconi School of Management, will discuss aspects showing the economic longevity achieved by these enterprises.  Over the long term their impact becomes very clear.

Over the course of these three days, lectures will take place at Palazzo Butera. These will be interspersed with a variety of visits across Palermo that will include places that are more or less well known. 

In the evening private dinners have been arranged in historic houses and other places of significant cultural importance. The dinners are designed as an integral part of the masterclass as they will allow for a more intimate understanding of the area. They also offer a time for discussion and reflection upon the experiences and learning of the day. 



The use of Palazzo Butera as host to this masterclass is not a random choice. It represents a fine example of the sort of enlightened patronage under discussion.   This eighteenth-century sea- front palace, once the home of the Branciforti family, was purchased by Francesca and Massimo Valsecchi in 2016. The new owners privately undertook a complete restoration of the building with the intention of transferring their collection to Palermo.


Since the 60’s the Valsecchi’s guiding principles of the collection have been characterised by exchanges and cross-pollination of ideas. Assembled over decades of passionate collecting research,  it is now finally visible after a building restoration that lasted five years.


In the spring of 2021 Palazzo Butera opened its doors to the public with the full collection on view. The main works in the collection arrived in Palermo after long-term loans to the Fitzwilliam Museum in Cambridge and the Ashmolean Museum in Oxford (2016-2020). 





Bertrand du Vignaud

An art historian and a specialist of cultural heritage, Bertrand du Vignaud has been Chairman of Christie's Monaco and Vice-Président of Christie's France. Passionate about the safeguarding the world cultural heritage, he has been President of the World Monuments Fund organisations for Europe, France and Italy. Currently, he advises the Fondation Evergète in Geneva and is the scientific advisor of Dassault Histoire et Patrimoine in France and is the President of the Comité International des Amis de la Bibliothèque Vaticane in Rome. For more than 40 years, he has launched numerous projects to save and restore masterpieces of cultural heritage in danger or in urgent need of work around the world: from baroque churches in Peru, Brazil and Austria, to the Queens’ Theatre at Trianon, from the Carracci Gallery in Rome to the Palace of Dario in Persepolis; the most original and iconic of these was the reinstallation of the spectacular decors of an 18thcentury mansion, the Hôtel de Voyer d’Argenson, or Chancellerie d’Orléans, in Paris. He is also a great nephew of the painter Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec, and through his writing and lectures, works to make the little-know aspects of this artist’s life better known to the public. His last book, “Les Thellusson”, was published in French and English by In Fine in 2021 and is dedicated to an important European family of collectors and art patrons.

Claudio Gulli

Dr Claudio Gulli was born in Palermo in 1987. He read History of Art at the Università degli Studi di Siena and gained his Ph.D. at the Scuola Normale Superiore in Pisa, with a thesis on the late-nineteenth century Chiaramonte Bordonaro collection (published by Officina Libraria in 2021). Between 2009 and 2011, he worked in the Paintings Department of the Louvre Museum in Paris, where his contributions to the research on Leonardo da Vinci focused on the literary popularity of the master's Saint John the Baptist (2009) and Saint Anne (2011). He is involved in the project of Palazzo Butera in Palermo, where he is now director, since the acquisition of the building by Francesca and Massimo Valsecchi


Andrea Rurale

Andrea Rurale is a Lecturer at the Department of Marketing at Università Bocconi. At SDA Bocconi, he is the Director of the Master in Arts Management and Administration (MAMA). He has conducted research and education projects with major enterprises. His research activities focus on cultural marketing, consumer behaviour, experiential marketing, CRM and marketing communication. He is the author of books and articles on his topics of interest. His works have been published in Psychology and Marketing. He has been a Visiting Professor in many international universities, such as Simon Fraser in Vancouver (Canada), Tinsgua University in Beijing (China), SMU in Dallas (USA), UTS in Sydney (Australia) and Universidad de Aguascalientes (Mexico). He is President of the Istituto musicale superiore Monteverdi Conservatory in Cremona. Andrea earned a degree from Università Bocconi and a PhD in Marketing from Universitat de València. He is President of the Lombardy Delegation of FAI – Fondo Ambiente Italiano.


Piergiacomo Mion Dalle Carbonare

Piergiacomo Mion Dalle Carbonare is SDA Junior Lecturer of the Government, Health and Non-Profit Division and Coordinator of the Master in Arts Management and Administration (MAMA) at SDA Bocconi School of Management. He is Deputy Director of the Master of Science in Economics and Management for Arts, Culture, Media, and Entertainment (ACME) at Bocconi University where he also teaches courses related to Cultural Policies, Public Management and Territorial Marketing. He holds a PhD in Marketing from the University of Valencia. He has been visiting scholar at SMU Dallas. Piergiacomo is also Head of the Milan Delegation of FAI – Fondo Ambiente Italiano.


The MasterClass program will be published on February 15th.​