Bernard de Launoit
After a degree in economics from Université libre de Bruxelles, Bernard de Launoit made his name in the arts sector in 1989 when he started as an assistant at MuHKA (Museum of Contemporary Art in Antwerp) before joining Galerie Isy Brachot in Brussels and Paris, where he specialized in Belgian surrealist painting. In 1994 he became managing director of Christie’s Belgium, a position he held until 1999.
From then on, he divided his time between Brussels and Paris, in various cultural areas. He joined Philippe Herreweghe’s Orchestre des Champs Elysées while also acting as a consultant in cultural matters, among others for the Magritte and Photography exhibition that opened at the Center for Fine Arts in 2005 and for the Maison Européenne de la Photographie in Paris in 2006. He was one of the founders and a vice-president of the Magritte Foundation, a partner of the Royal Museums of Fine Arts and Suez in the creation of the Magritte Museum which opened in June 2009.
Bernard de Launoit was also a documentary producer. He co-founded two production companies: Alizé Production in Brussels and Arctic Productions in Paris. In this capacity, he produced some fifty documentaries in twenty years in the fields of culture and exploration, including the largest expedition filmed on Mount Everest on the occasion of the 50th anniversary of the first ascent in 2003. As part of his involvement in the filming of expeditions, in January 2006 he became one of the owners of the Belgian film-conferences organization “Exploration du monde”.
A music lover by nature, he devoted much of his time to cultural institutions, contributing his support and knowledge. These institutions include Brussels Philharmonic, Ars Musica Festival, Orchestre royal de chambre de Wallonie, Music Fund, Les Musicales de Beloeil and many more.
From 2004 onwards, Bernard de Launoit played an essential role in the overhaul of the Queen Elisabeth Music Chapel, of which he was the CEO and Executive Chairman for almost two decades. He was guided in this task by his unconditional pursuit of excellence.
While always respecting the founding ideas of the institution, his capacity as a unifier enabled him to progressively expand and professionalize the institution by surrounding himself with leading cultural partners and a team devoted heart and soul to the project. With intuition and talent, he perpetuated the initial vision while developing in a remarkable way the artistic project based on the transmission of knowledge: the transmission of an art, the transmission of an intangible heritage, the transmission of societal values. It is in this spirit that he also launched the non-profit organization Equinox and developed the “Community Projects”, bringing music to places where music is not naturally at home.
In 2015, Queen Paola, Honorary Chairman of the Music Chapel, inaugurated the de Launoit Wing, providing the ideal infrastructure to develop the institution and help put young musicians on stage.
By building up an impressive collection of instruments, he enabled a whole community of artists to express their talent to the full.
Finally, he secured the loyalty of a galaxy of Belgian patrons, reinforced by the American and Canadian Friends, encouraging the sponsorship of young artists throughout the world.
A charismatic leader and inspiring personality, with a keen intelligence, constantly seeking new projects, he gave his all until the end.
He lived his life with passion. A consuming passion for art in all its forms and with an enduring love of classical music.