One year ago, a group of private investors purchased the 16th-century home in Seville where Diego Velázquez was born—a derelict building that had been abandoned for a decade—intending to turn it into an education center dedicated to the Spanish painter. Now, after months of being denied state or institutional funding for the project, the property’s owners have launched a crowdfunding campaign to realize their dream, according to El País.
The building, a labyrinthian structure located in the very center of the Andalusian capital, spans some 6,200 square feet, with 12 rooms, two stories, and a pair of patios. Though not officially documented, it is believed to be the place where Velázquez was born, in 1599, and the only remaining site that the great Golden Age artist called home.
After a stint as a gallery, the space served as the headquarters for the Sevillian design firm Victorio & Lucchino for more than three decades, beginning in 1985. The company abandoned the property in 2012, though, and in 2017, teetering on the verge of bankruptcy, it was forced to give up it up to repay the debt.
In stepped six local investors, led by local writer Enrique Bocanegra, who snapped up the building—one of the oldest in Seville—for $1.3 million.
The first step of their plan is to renovate and insure the property, a project that Bocanegra estimates will cost upwards of $780,000. The target of the crowdfunding campaign, launched this month under the name Friends of the Casa Natal de Velázquez, is to raise the first $55,000 to $100,000, which will be put toward fixing one of the patios. As of now, the campaign has raised roughly $5,500.
Eventually, the goal is to restore the house so that it appears as it did when Velázquez lived there—much like the Rembrandt House in Amsterdam or the Rubens House in Antwerp, the crowdfunding page explains. One room will be turned into a painting studio based on the one the artist set up in Seville in March 1617, upon passing his professional examination. Another space will be set aside for workshops and public programming.
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