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So large is the gift – 300 paintings initially loaned for 11 years – that the Spanish government have paid out £30m for the building of a new annexe to the museum to house it.

Baroness Carmen Thyssen, a former Spanish beauty queen who has been collecting for the past two decades in her own right, is loaning the museum a large collection of Impressionist and 19th century works by the likes of Monet, Renoir and Gauguin, as well as 20th century masterpieces by Picasso and others.

She is thought now to be concentrating on later works.

What will happen to the collection after the 11-year period is up is not clear, but the museum has expressed its intention to graft the new collection onto the old “in a permanent way”, presumably in the hope that it will turn into a permanent gift.