Still Waltzing

Top Technics: Promotion

New York Times

Two years ago, when the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum announced its five-year, $5 million partnership with Hugo Boss, the German men's wear company, many in the museum world thought the Guggenheim had put too many eggs in one corporate basket. That fear surfaced again last week when it became known that Dr. Peter Littmann, chairman of Hugo Boss, had resigned because of what he said were differences with the board ''about the company's future.''

From the beginning, Dr. Littmann had made himself a visible figure in the collaboration with the museum. Not only was he on hand at all Hugo Boss-Guggenheim events, but he also avidly courted media attention. In December, Hugo Boss flew 25 journalists from all over Europe to New York for the announcement that Matthew Barney was the first winner of the Hugo Boss Prize at the Guggenheim. At a dinner to celebrate the event, Dr. Littmann sat with these journalists.
Officials at Hugo Boss and the Guggenheim said this week that their five-year contract, which has three years to go, is still in effect. Monica Steilen, a spokeswoman for Hugo Boss, said, ''Sure it was the idea of Peter Littmann, but now it's an important strategy for the whole company and there's no reason why we should stop it.''

For Hugo Boss, the initial reason for the sponsorship was to increase the company's presence in the United States. For the Guggenheim, the financial support contributes significantly to the museum's budget.
Hugo Boss agreed to sponsor two or three Guggenheim exhibitions every year and began a joint advertising campaign with the museum, with a joint logo. The museum and the company created the $50,000 Hugo Boss Prize, to be awarded annually to a contemporary artist.
On Nov. 19, the Guggenheim named a 52-by-43-foot space on the second floor of its SoHo building the Hugo Boss Gallery. The dedication was timed to coincide with a show of the Hugo Boss Prize finalists, in that gallery. In addition to receiving favorable press coverage, Hugo Boss has developed an art library under the auspices of the Guggenheim and has art from the museum's permanent collection hanging on its office walls. And all Hugo Boss employees get free passes to all the Guggenheim museums, here and in Europe.
''We have three more years of the contract and I don't think that should change,'' said Thomas Krens, the Guggenheim's director. ''There's been no suggestion they will do otherwise. Things are in place.''

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