Daily Management Review

Léonard Gianadda, Creator of the Foundation in Martigny


In French-speaking Switzerland, Martigny, where Julius Caesar covered himself in glory, there lives another conqueror: Léonard Gianadda, who set up a foundation that hosts memorable exhibitions. The next one is “Caillebotte”, the tale of a remarkable adventure.

by Laurence Mouillefarine

© RTS/Frank Mentha
© RTS/Frank Mentha
Léonard Gianadda can move mountains. Forty years ago, who would have thought that the foundation he created in the depths of the Swiss canton of Valais would host masterpieces from the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York and the Pushkin Museum in Moscow? “I’m glad,” he says. He has a right to be. t wo generations after his penniless grandfather immigrated from Piedmont, Italy to Martigny, Gianadda, who trained as an engineer, grew wealthy erecting bridges and buildings in the same city. While building a tower in 1976, the remains of a g allo- r oman temple were unearthed. Once called Octodure, Martigny is an ancient city: Caesar fought a battle there 2,000 years ago. While waiting for the building permit, Pierre, Gianadda’s younger brother, died in a plane crash. They were so close that Léonard accompanied him on his honeymoon. Heartbroken but later touched by grace, Gianadda decided to create a cultural foundation in his memory. He drew up the plans himself and provided all the funding. An imposing reinforced concrete building rose up. Jealous people called it a “bunker”, saying Gianadda had delusions of grandeur. “Of course you’ve got to be a bit crazy,” he says. “That’s my passionate Italian side. A Swiss person never would have done that. Read more