“We started our art collection as a hobby,” Hutts says during the unofficial opening Saints, Sinners, Lovers and Fools: 300 Years of Flemish Masterworks. The entrepreneur is clearly delighted with the collection of works his foundation is exhibiting in America. “With the saving on culture in Flanders, I don’t know if this is still possible there. Culture is important for the future of any society.”
Through January 2023, Huts in Denver, Colorado is exhibiting approximately 140 Flemish masterpieces. Some works have never been shown in Belgium or the United States. The exhibition tells the story of more than three centuries of Flemish art and cultural history. The exhibit will then travel to the Dallas Museum of Art in Texas.
The Denver Art Museum has been considered one of the top cultural attractions in the heartland of America for decades. The exhibition includes works by Hans Memling, Peter Paul Rubens, Jacob Jordans and Anton van Dyck. “There are some great museums in the greater Denver area,” Hutz explains. “People come from all over, from Nevada to Montana.”
Katharina van Kaderen is the President of The Phoebus Foundation. She first came to the Denver Art Museum five years ago. “The ball got rolling to organize an exhibition here,” says the art historian. “Flanders was really the Hollywood of the 16th century. And Rubens was the Steven Spielberg of the 17th century.
Van Kaderen explains how artists from the southern Netherlands dominated the European art market with their brilliance for over three hundred years. “Today, in the age of Instagram and YouTube, the way image is used to tell stories around the world is unimaginable without the genius of Flanders’ fifteenth, sixteenth, and seventeenth-century artists.”
But Hutts didn’t just travel to America with art. The entrepreneur wants to make his American dream more tangible with plastic. Katoen Natie wants to invest one billion dollars in North America in the coming years.
“We’ve been here for twenty years,” says Frank Vingerhoets, head of Katoen Natie’s US branch. “We’ve grown exponentially in the US in the last five years. We strongly believe in the future here, and the polymers market still has a lot of room to expand.
Hutz goes a step further: “We want to be bigger in Texas than in Antwerp. A lot more expansion is possible in the petrochemical market. US assets for Katoen Natie include speed of permits, greater flexibility in the labor market, and building land and shale gas. “There is no more land in Europe,” said Hutts.
Katoen Natie in North America went from a turnover of less than 150 million dollars in 2012 to a turnover of more than 300 million dollars last year. The company packages and ships polymers primarily in the United States and employs approximately one thousand people.