THE LONG VERSION
Thank you for taking the time to read the long version of Project Victor Delhez. We know that this whole explanation is quite long, but a project like this just asks for more explanation before you might be interested to sponsor it. We’ll give you all possible details on this page, which is why it is so long. It will take you at least twenty minutes to read everything, so take your time. This page shows a blueprint of what Project Victor Delhez should become, which does not mean that we’re not open to suggestions or improvements of course. Are you ready? Let’s read!
As webmaster of this website, I am one of the last European descendants of Victor Delhez, and also someone who met him during his last visit to Belgium in the early 1980s. I actually didn’t really expect that there would be so much positive response after setting up this website in the summer of 2021.
It was more intended to make a virtual business card of Victor Delhez – after all, he was my uncle – and also to occasionally sell one of his works. Due a donation of my grandmother in the early 90’s I’am in possession of 422 works of Delhez.
This collection consists of twenty reproduction prints from the series Les Fleurs Du Mal supplemented with 402 original works. Of those 402 works, there are 73 titles of which I have more than one copy in my collection. So I actually have a series of 329 works of which only about twenty are not signed by Delhez. All other works are signed and they all belong to one of the eight prints that were made of the work.
In addition to an archive with hundreds of photos, old catalogs and even some original ‘printing blocks’, I also have more than 300 letters that Delhez wrote from his departure to Argentina in 1926 until the early 1980s. These letters (in Dutch or French) actually tell the whole story of his life, from the departure in Antwerp until a few years before his death.
The letters include backgrounds on the works Delhez has created, and personal opinions on various matters. An incredible treasure of information, and when reading those letters you make a real journey through time.
WHY A FOUNDATION?
I’am getting older, and unfortunately my health is not optimal. Due to diabetes (a family ailment, it is not known whether Victor Delhez also had diabetes, but it would not surprise me since almost the entire family has been affected to a greater or lesser extent) my body is slowly but surely deteriorating.
That I will not become 100 years old, is almost certain. I will be very happy if I can reach 75, which is basically another 20 years, but my exit from this life can also happen much faster. On October 12, 2022, my mother passed away from pancreatic cancer, which is also diabetes-related, barely six weeks after being diagnosed. So it can go very quickly with this (clearly hereditary) condition.
My greatest concern is what will happen to both the archive with all the letters, photo’s and of course the works itself after my death. I am not married, have no girlfriend, nor children, and I currently live in a tiny social apartment. A few days after my death, they will just come to empty that apartment, and everything from letters, photo’s and even all the works may disappear in a garbage container to end up in the recycle park.
People who come to empty social apartments on behalf of the social housing company usually have no real knowledge of art. They see some drawings, some old letters and a few boxes with photos, don’t realize the value of it, and just throw it away. It would not be the first time that valuable art disappears forever this way.
To prevent this from happening, and also to ensure that both Delhez’s works and the archive are preserved for posterity and/or possible research purposes in the more distant future, I want to set up the Victor Delhez Foundation. That way everything is safe for the future, even after my death.
GOAL OF THE FOUNDATION
In addition to securing the works, photos, letters and other archive material, the foundation has another and very important goal, which is actually the reason for existence of the foundation.
That main goal is to give Victor Delhez back the fame he actually deserves. Today – although there has been some improvement in recent years – he has somewhat fallen into oblivion, and the foundation must not only ensure that Delhez is brought back from oblivion, but also that he does not fall back into the same oblivion, like it happened in the 1980s.
This will be done in collaboration with other enthusiasts of Delhez’s works and existing organizations and/or individuals who are involved with art from the specific period 1920 – 1980. On top I also have a few specific ideas to promote Victor Delhez.
The intention would be to establish two legal forms. Why two and not just the foundation? I’ll explain it to you.
The Victor Delhez Foundation will carry out trading activities. Not intensively like a real business, but money will be spent (and hopefully some money will come in as well). In that case there is always a risk that things might go wrong somewhere in the financial field. There is always a chance that the Victor Delhez foundation will go bankrupt. I hope this will never happen, but never say never.
For that reason, I would like to build in a kind of security by means of a second legal form. Which legal form we have to discuss with a specialist. Probably a notary can give us good advice in this, so that we certainly do not do anything illegal. Probably a non-profit organization will be the best choice. I have even a very nice name for that second legal form. I will keep this name to myself for a while, moreover because it cannot be translated into English. The name of that second legal form will be an anagram of Victor Delhez.
This second legal form not only owns the building in which the Victor Delhez Foundation will be located, it also owns all the works of Victor Delhez from my private collection, as well as all the archive material that they will receive through a donation after they are founded.
In this way, if things go wrong with the foundation itself, creditors cannot claim engravings or archive material, nor can the property be confiscated, since the Victor Delhez Foundation does not own it, They only rent it for a monthly or annual symbolic amount from the non-profit organization. The non-profit organization does not engage into any commercial activity, so it is almost impossible for them to go bankrupt. Both the works of Victor Delhez and all other material are safe in this way.
The question is whether this is legally allowed or not. At a later stage of the Victor Delhez Project we have to get a definite answer concerning this issue, and if it is not legal, we have to look for another solution.
ACTIVITIES OF THE FOUNDATION
As said before, the main objective of the Victor Delhez Foundation is to give the artist the fame he deserves. There are a number of options to do this.
One of the most important things that the Victor Delhez Foundation will be involved in is of course making works available for exhibitions and possibly also organizing them itself, whether or not together with third parties or in combination with works by other artists.
If the location allows it (with a small garden for example) we could also organize small-scale events, such as lectures related to Delhez, his contemporaries or even other small cultural activities such as book presentations or literary evenings. This is optional, it is not said that the location in which the Victor Delhez Foundation will be located will have the opportunity to organize this.
The idea is also there, if the location where the foundation is located allows it, to provide a space where the archives can be consulted. Material can be scanned or photographed by people who are researching Victor Delhez. or certain periods in art history where he was active.
This can certainly be interesting for students at colleges or universities where the information we have can help them for certain tasks or even bachelor or master theses. In that case we also create an interaction. Our material helps them and they are giving exposure to the name Victor Delhez (and his works) through their academic publications.
ACTIVITIES IN (ART) SCHOOLS
The Victor Delhez Foundation will also be involved in promoting the artist through schools. This could be in specific art schools, where he will certainly be included in certain lessons, but activities related to his works can also be organized in schools without any artistic lessons.
I have followed teacher training myself, and next to specific art education I certainly also see opportunities for teaching subjects like morality, history, Catholic religion, Dutch and others, where we as foundation then develop a kind of subject-related theme package and even supervise it on site at the school.
For example, a theme could be Crime and Punishment by Dostoevsky for the lessons Dutch, where that book is usually discussed in the third stage of secondary education. The Gospel series can be used in a package for religion lessons or interfaith dialogue in morality lessons.
There are many possibilities with the works of Delhez what this concerns, and young people will also get to know Victor Delhez. Once again a great advantage to give the name Delhez awareness again.
In a next phase, and in consultation with people active in education, we should look at which works or series of works by Delhez we can transform into a didactically interesting package in accordance with the final objectives of education.
MEDIA AND INTERACTIVE PROJECTS
I myself am a big fan of Virtual Reality, so I certainly think that doing something about Delhez in Virtual Reality could be a good idea. Such a project requires development, so it is today a bit difficult to say in which direction it will exactly go. Delhez in the much talked about Metaverse, I definitely see it as a possibility.
In addition, I certainly also see our own YouTube channel (which actually already exists, but I am not doing anything with it at the moment) on which we can use Delhez’s works for an analysis, possibly with a guest who provides additional information about what Delhez actually wants to tell with that specific work. We are talking about short videos with a maximum of five minutes in length each, although a more extensive documentary about Delhez can certainly also be made, perhaps even in episodes.
We need to brainstorm about what we can achieve via YouTube to give Delhez more name recognition once the foundation has been established.
COPYRIGHT MANAGEMENT EUROPE
This is optional for the time being, and it is far from certain whether it will be possible, because an agreement must first be concluded with the heirs of Delhez in Argentina.
What we as a foundation would aim for is that they grant us copyright management on Delhez’s works for Europe, as there was an agreement between Victor Delhez and his two sisters Jeanne and Alice when they were still alive. This might also gives the foundation some income to continue its operations.
The most ideal scenario would be that in a more distant future there would be representation of Delhez on every continent through a local foundation that, in addition to copyright management, is also responsible for the promotion of the artist.
OPERATION OF THE LEGAL FORMS
Now that we have talked about the different ways of promoting Delhez and his works, we should also talk about the functioning of the two legal forms.
The Victor Delhez Foundation itself can be either a public benefit foundation or a private foundation. Which form is the best, must be legally checked by a specialist. A notary will probably be able to help us with the necessary advice.
In all probability, a private foundation will be chosen, with one director and a limited number of board members. The more board members, the more chance of disagreements resulting in a lot of hassle. I especially want to avoid that. No more than seven board members. It’s very important however that the function of director and members of the board are all unpaid positions.
It cannot be that the little money that will come in, will be spend on remunerations for the director or members of the board of the foundation, because then the foundation itself would completely overshoot its goal. I may have misunderstood, but the information I can find online about setting up a foundation in Belgium even seems to prohibit directors and board members from making personal profits, which is why it’s a foundation.
The second legal form has the same directors and board members as the foundation, but the mandatory annual board meeting is more of an administrative formality since it is a non-profit organization, and does not have any commercial activities neither it makes any decisions, since those are all made by the Victor Delhez Foundation itself.
Apart from the fact that the non-profit organization is the official owner of the building, all the works from Delhez and the archive material, it is not doing anything else. The director and board members in the non-profit organization are also unpaid positions of course.
THE LOCATION OF THE FOUNDATION
In addition to the start-up costs for the legal forms, one of the most important issues is the purchase of a building in which those two legal forms will be located and from where the activities will take place.
We must look for a building that is practical for the objectives of the foundation and the non-profit organization. That means sufficient space so we’re able to realize the things we want to do in the interest of Delhez.
Which building and where exactly can only be decided later, depending on what is available on the real estate market at that time. Preferably somewhere in Antwerp of course, Delhez’s birthplace.
The question you have now is probably: ‘Wouldn’t it be better (and cheaper) to rent a building instead of buying it?’ No, renting is actually wasted money that only makes a landlord richer.
Moreover, in most rental properties you are not allowed to domiciliate the seat of a foundation or non-profit organization, for which you have to rent a commercial premise. These properties are usually a lot more expensive in terms of rental costs.
Next to that, there is also the problem that the day the owner decides to sell his property for whatever reason, you and your entire foundation and non-profit organization have six months to scratch up. That’s a lot of hassle that we want to avoid, so no rental, but buying.
For the sake of clarity, the non-profit organization buys the building. This means I personally am NOT the owner of the property! So I can’t rent it out or sell it and put the money in my own pocket, because I’m not the owner, that’s the non-profit organization.
The building can only be sold if the non-profit organization is dissolved, but it will be clearly stated in the articles of association that in that case the proceeds must be donated to an artistic charity, and under no circumstances those proceeds can go to the director or members of the board.
This brings us to the most compelling (or depressing) part of Project Victor Delhez. What will it cost? First of all, there are the one-time start-up costs. We work with budgets here because it is unclear at this stage how much certain items will actually cost.
The total seems like a huge amount, but don’t forget that it includes the purchase of a property. We have already prospected a bit on the real estate market and a property that meets the needs of the foundation, preferably somewhere in the center of Antwerp – Belgium (Delhez’s birthplace and therefore the most logical place for a foundation around his person) will cost between 2.5 million and 3.5 million euros, sometimes even exceeding 4 million euros. We therefore set the budget at 4 million euros, but of course we will try to find a property which is much cheaper than this budget. That will require a good dose of luck. Four million euros is the absolute maximum budget for the property.
Another option is that the patron buys the property, thereby becoming the official owner, but grants the non-profit organization and/or the foundation the right to use that property for a very long period of time with a kind of long term usage agreement. We then think of at least 50 years, preferably even longer. The risk of course is that if the patron ever gets into financial difficulties, he or she can drag the non-profit organization and foundation down with him/her, or upon his or her death if the heirs start to make trouble it can be the end of the whole Victor Delhez Project.
If we go for this second option, a solid contact must be made between the non-profit organization and the patron. Doing things this way would lower the start-up costs massively with about 75% of course, so I’m certainly open for something like this. It would mean we have to search for less money elsewhere. The same counts for a third option where the patron already owns a property in Antwerp that is suitable for the purposes of the foundation and where he or she wants to give us the right to use it, also for a very long period of time of course.
|Purchase property||€ 4.000.000|
|Notary costs (+- 12% ?)||€ 500.000|
|Renovation & furnishing||€ 500.000|
|Formation costs of the Victor Delhez foundation.||€ 1.250|
|Formation costs non-profit organization.||€ 250|
|Legal and tax advice||€ 5.000|
|Framing 329 works of Victor Delhez.||€ 25.000|
|Miscellaneous & reserve budget.||€ 268.500|
|TOTAL BUDGET||€ 5.300.000|
|DESCRIPTION||MONTHLY||10 YEAR COST|
|Gas & Electricity||€ 1.500||€ 180.000|
|Other utilities (water, telecom, internet)||€ 500||€ 60.000|
|Webserver||€ 350||€ 42.000|
|Foundation operating budget||€ 5.000||€ 600.000|
|Maintenance costs & cleaning||€ 750||€ 90.000|
|Accounting (external company)||€ 500||€ 60.000|
|Alarm system||€ 500||€ 60.000|
|Insurances||€ 500||€ 60.000|
|Salary all-round employee (gross)||€ 3.000||€ 360.000|
|Lease vehicle||€ 500||€ 60.000|
|Budget miscellaneous||€ 650||€ 78.000|
|TOTAL||€ 13.750||€ 1.650.000|
In addition to the start-up costs, there are unfortunately also monthly recurring costs. In this calculation we have taken the amounts fairly generously, but still and with some unforeseen costs or things we are not thinking about right now, we will end up with a monthly cost of at least around € 15,000 to keep the Victor Delhez Foundation alive.
For that reason, we are actually looking for someone who is willing to finance the total amount for 10 years in advance. Then we are safe for 10 years, and we have time to expand the foundation without too much worry.
After 10 years, the foundation should be self-sufficient and able to generate €15,000 in income per month, possibly with government subsidies, because we have not yet added these in the current calculation. Whether we are going to convince the government to give us at least € 180,000 as a gift every year, that is very unsure. It will not be an easy task to convince them, but we can try it. Before we submit the application to receive subsidies, the foundation must be established and operational, otherwise we will never be able to convince the government to grant us subsidies.
It would help the foundation enormously, especially because in the current calculation only one staff member is foreseen. In the beginning that will suffice, but if the foundation really gets to cruising speed, a second and possibly a third employee will probably be needed. However, this can only be funded if we are awarded subsidies, because employer contributions are terribly high in Belgium.
WILL PROFITS BE MADE?
Let’s be very honest about this. The chance that (a lot of) profit will be made with the Project Victor Delhez and the associated foundation is rather small.
The objective is really to bring the works of Delhez and the artist himself out of oblivion and to keep him out of it. That’s not something profitable. If we wanted to make profit, we would not set up a foundation, but choose a different business form.
The Victor Delhez Project does not aim to make profit. For that reason we will either have to work with patronage, government subsidies or a combination of both, otherwise the project is unfortunately not viable.
If profits are made, those profits will be put back into the foundation, for example, by purchasing new works from Delhez, or by organizing extra activities in the interest of Delhez.
WHAT IS YOUR PART IN ALL OF THIS?
From my side, I donate the 329 works of Delhez from which there is one copy in my collection to the non-profit organization, as well as the complete archive with the photos, letters and all other material of Delhez. I don’t want any financial compensation for that. I give everything away for free to save it for the future.
Anyone who knows me a little bit better knows that money is not that important to me, so I have no intention of making a lot of money on Victor Delhez’s behalf. For this reason, the statutes of the non-profit organization will also state that once works are owned by the non-profit organization, they may no longer be sold. The works that currently are still on this website in the section ‘works for sale’ will therefore largely disappear, and will no longer be for sale.
I myself only keep the 73 works of which I have more than one copy, as a nest egg, (Those works will stay available in the ‘works for sale’ section of the website) but after my death those that remain will also go to the non-profit organization by means of a will or other arrangement of course.
WHAT’S IN IT FOR YOU PERSONALLY?
As said, I don’t want any money for donating my collection of works by Delhez and all the other Delhez related material to the non-profit organization, not a single eurocent. What is in it for me personally is also not important. The only thing that matters is to make Victor Delhez famous again, everything else is secondary. However, anyone who thinks I’m a complete naive idiot, I have to disappoint.
What I do expect in return are just a few small things, which you could consider as ‘benefits in kind’. Again, that’s not about money coming into my personal bank account and that I can start spending. Those benefits in kind can be called very reasonable.
It is all about matters that will be present or necessary at the establishment of the foundation and the non-profit organization and are therefore included in the budget. It will cost neither the foundation nor the non-profit organization extra money that is not available in the budget of the start-up costs or mentioned in the monthly costs. It will even yield a small financial benefit for both of them as well.
We will discuss what those benefits in kind entail later with the effective people who will take care of the patronage, but I don’t expect them to make a fuss about it, since it really isn’t unreasonable or impossible to achieve.
So, in fact we will need at least €6.950.000 to start everything up and keep the foundation alive for 10 years. If the patron becomes the owner of the property or let us use one he or she already owns as described above, this will lower the minimum required budget to about €2.450.000.
Yes, in both cases that’s a lot of money, and it won’t be easy to raise that amount, but it’s not completely impossible either. If this page is read by the right people, people with a heart for art and who are fan of Delhez’s works, the train can leave in a relatively short period of time.
Once everything is started up legally, the first thing we will do is apply for government grants. The Flemish Government has an annual budget of almost 142 million euros for subsidies in the arts sector.
It is impossible to predict whether we will get subsidies, how much and especially whether they will be renewed each time (that means having stress every time the decision to renew is taken, of course). That depends entirely on the minister of culture on duty. If he appreciates Delhez’s works we will get money, if his successor thinks it’s rubbish then we won’t get money anymore.
For that reason, it would be best if we could acquire the above amount (or maybe even a little bit more) through patronage. In this way we can always provide a basic operation with regard to the activities of the foundation, and this for ten years. With money we may or may not receive through subsidies, we can expand operations, for example by recruiting extra staff so that we can undertake more initiatives at the same time.
For a while I had the idea of working with crowdfunding and raising the money that way, but we have to be realistic about that. Crowdfunding is good for several tens of thousands or with some luck a few hundred thousand euros. Raising almost seven million euros through crowdfunding is virtually impossible. An intimate dinner with the Pope is probably easier to arrange.
We will therefore discard the idea of crowdfunding for the time being. If we do not find people who want to help us through patronage, then trying crowdfunding is of course always an option, but I personally would prefer to avoid it.
If we could raise such an amount through crowdfunding in the form of a small miracle, it would take years. The Victor Delhez foundation and the non-profit organization should be established in the course of this or next year.
THE END…OR THE BEGINNING?
Congratulations, we’ve now come to the end of this long version, and you’ve read it all.
What we need is someone (or a few people) who really love the works of Delhez, and that want to help us to realize Project Victor Delhez. If you think you’re the person we need please take up contact with me, so we can talk.
Let’s hope this is not the end, but actually the beginning of something great, something that will make Victor Delhez famous again!