Dear Henri Loyrette, Dear Marc Ladreit of Lacharrière,Dear Marie-Christine Labourdette, Dear Director of the Department of Greek, Etruscan and Roman Antiquities, Dear Jean-Luc Martinez,Ladies and gentlemen, Dear friends,

On the island of Samothrace, I had been introduced to the Mysteries of the Cabires, ancient and obscene, sacred like flesh and blood; the milk-stuffed snakes of the Trophonios den rubbed against my ankles; the Thracian feasts of Orpheus gave rise to wild rites of brotherhood. The statesman who had forbidden under the harshest penalties all forms of mutilation consented to attend the orgies of the Syrian Goddess: I saw the awful whirlwind of bloody dances; fascinated like a kid in the presence of a reptile, my young companion contemplated with terror those men who chose to make the demands of age and sex as definitive as that of death, and perhaps more atrocious».

Of course, it is difficult to imagine, in front of the majesty of the Daru staircase, these scenes that the genius of Marguerite Yourcenar delivers to us, by having Hadrian describe the ceremonies of which one of the most famous masterpieces of the ancient statuary was undoubtedly the witness, in a past now forgotten.

I would like to take this opportunity to pay a most deserved tribute to Henri Loyrette and to the way he and his teams manage, with remarkable talent, to give the Louvre the exceptional dynamic it is today. In the excellent relationship that I have, from the rue de Valois, with these great admiral ships that its main public institutions, I must say that the Louvre occupies a special place, in view of the major metamorphoses, dear Henri, that you are undertaking there.

I am thinking of the upcoming inauguration of the Louvre-Lens; the long-awaited inauguration of the Islamic Arts Pavilion; the remarkable quality of the exhibitions you are planning; or even contemporary artists, that you invite to submit spaces sacralized by history to new perspectives, like François Morellet with his stained glass windows, or the late Cy Twombly and his ceilings, were able to do so in such a masterful way.

In this dynamic that you give to the world’s first museum, your openness to patronage occupies a remarkable place. We remember the success of Operation Cranach, with the acquisition of the Three Graces.

Today, we find ourselves under the victory of Samothrace, in front of these mythical steps that millions of visitors cross every day, at the crossroads of this city-Palace that is the Grand Louvre, in front of the most famous ship’s bow in the world. Perhaps one day, in Libya, the naval monument on Cyrene’s agora may reach the same notoriety.

Among the prestigious remains that the ancient Mediterranean will have bequeathed to humanity, the Victory of Samothrace is indeed one of the undisputed stars, whose familiarity often makes us forget the complex past made up of forgotten Hellenistic battles and romantic discoveries, as is also often the case for the masterpieces that populate the department of Greek, Etruscan and Roman arts, evolving at the slow pace of restoration, new acquisitions and the necessary modernization of their museography. Under the martial marbles exhumed under the Second Empire in an Ottoman island, we find the story of a reconstruction that took years, between the analysis of Hellenistic coins that could give an idea of the original monument, and the return of the French and Austrian archaeological missions in this North Aegean Sea. In the mobility of these marbles which will soon be renewed, we always read the force of the wind clasping the tunic on the chest of a Victory to which we paid tribute to avert the fate of storms and battles.

A Victoire that will be renovated from 2013, with the help of Marc Ladreit de Lacharrière. It is indeed in this heart of Louvre, of which Henri Loyrette plans the ambitious redeployment, that FIMALAC has chosen to partner.

Recently, at the MEDEF University, I mentioned the emotional and irrational role played by patronage. Corporate philanthropy is often described from a fiscal perspective and in terms of communication strategy; but there is also the deep attachment of some business leaders to projects in which they are willing to invest personally and over time. In your case, at Marc Ladreit de Lacharrière, these are all innovative actions that can be carried out, for example, to promote the representation of French immigrants on television and film, through your Fondation Agir Contre l'Exclusion; it is the fight against discrimination, it is also education for all. On all these subjects, you were appointed two years ago as a UNESCO Goodwill Ambassador. I fully share these values with you. I see them as priorities that are essential to my department.

With the Fondation Culture & Diversité, you have set yourselves the objective of promoting access to culture for young people from priority education: this is how the Ecole du Louvre, among your first partners, opened up to new audiences. The close link between FIMALAC and the Louvre already has a rich history, if we add your functions in particular, alongside Henri Loyrette, Chairman of the Board of Directors of Agence France-Muséums, in charge of the Universal Museum of the Louvre Abu Dhabi; not to mention your support for the prestigious restorations and exhibitions within this Department of the Louvre, which Henri Loyrette has rightly recalled.

Philanthropy is attachment, it is also fidelity. Today, we have been paying tribute to this fidelity since 1995. The renovation and enhancement of this heart of Louvre owes you so much.

In the Burgundian and Flemish painting of the 15th century, the great donors of the Church were represented in religious scenes of rigor. For these places where marble and porphyry reign, sobriety has been chosen, that of stone and writing. An exception plate for an exception commitment.