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Essl to sell art collection to save 4000 jobs

Karlheinz Essl, the founder of DIY company bauMax, has offered his collection of 7000 artworks held in the Essl museum in Lower Austria to the Austrian state with the hope that the sale will help secure 4000 jobs in his company.

BauMax is thought to be in debt to creditors but 74-year-old Essl is hoping that together with support from the bank, the money raised from the sale would help to restructure bauMax and save jobs.

"My wife and I are prepared to hand over the art collection to the state in order to save 4000 jobs in Austria," he said.

It's also understood that the sale will help to ensure the collection does not leave Austria, which is a risk if it is taken by bank creditors and then sold to foreigners. Essl has said it would "be a great loss to Austrian cultural landscape" if the collection was split up or lost.

The collection includes works from artists including Max Weiler and Arnulf Rainer and has a guaranteed 'book' value of 84 million Euros but estimates of it's retail value are as high as 250 million Euros.

The Austrian government has confirmed it is due to enter talks soon with Essl as well as representatives from the bank with the hope that a solution will be found for the paintings.

A spokesperson for BauMax has denied the company is on the brink of insolvency but confirmed to the ORF that they made a loss in 2012 and were given 78 million EUR by the bank in the same year.

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