Art foundation

The Phoebus Foundation is an art foundation under Anglo-Saxon law with philanthropic objectives. The foundation acquires art and provides a professional framework for the conservation and management of art works, ensures their preservation and restoration and aims to achieve a high level of scientific research. The results of these efforts are shared as widely as possible by means of exhibitions and loans, cultural events, symposia and publications.

The Phoebus Foundation was established with a view to ensuring the future of the collection, which was initially a private collection, owned by Fernand Huts and Karine Van den Heuvel and/or the family-owned Katoen Natie group. The Foundation wishes to recover high-quality pieces and bring them back to Flanders. In order to safeguard the collection against any claims by family members and the industrial and financial risks run by the Katoen Natie group, it was transferred to an independent legal structure, set up specifically for property rights management. Neither Katoen Natie nor the Huts family are beneficiaries of the Phoebus Foundation. As a consequence, the Foundation’s works of art can never be sold off to benefit the company and/or the family.

Anthony Van Dyck

Saint Sebastian after His Ordeal, c.1627–1632


What’s in a name?

‘Phoebus’ refers to Phoebus Apollo. In Greco-Roman mythology, the god Apollo was the protector of the muses, with whom he used to frolic on mount Parnassus, where they all lived… Later on in (art) history Apollo also kept turning up as a symbol, as the bringer of inspiration or even divine enlightenment and the representative of a mythical golden age – the paradisiacal era when violence, greed, jealousy and injustice had not yet come into existence.


Anglo-Saxon Inspiration

In the Anglo-Saxon world, the driving forces behind a cultural environment are often philanthropic in nature. Famous examples are the J. Paul Getty Museum in Los Angeles and The Frick Collection in New York. But many other British and American museums also owe their existence to private collections, from the renowned Metropolitan Museum in New York to The Tate and the British Museum in London. Citizens who take pride in their heritage, art and culture consider it a pleasure to ensure the preservation, restoration and display of these treasures. Many of them donate heirlooms, see to the day-to-day running, provide financial support or set up foundations.

Gustave Moreau

The Chariot of Phoebus Apollo, c.1880–1881

Peter Paul Rubens

The Adoration of the Magi, c.1606


Fernand Huts & Karine Van den Heuvel as collectors

Fernand Huts and Karine Van den Heuvel were both born in families that had great interest in history, current events, literature and politics, travel, museums and culture and were motivated by a social conscience and commitment. Both Fernand and Karine went to law school at Leuven University. The five years spent in a lively university town had a beneficial influence on their worldview and widened their scope. Fernand and Karine subsequently built their respective careers — his as an entrepreneur, hers as a magistrate — and raised three sons. Their first savings were spent on a family home. After that, any financial extras were spent on books, travel and visits to museums— expenditures that strengthened their resolve to become citizens of the world.

Piet Van der Ouderaa

The Sjongers Family on the Porch, 1907

"The Phoebus Foundation and its Chancellery take a hands-on approach to scientific research regarding the art works in its collection."