France should offset its financial losses from the coronavirus pandemic by selling Leonardo da Vinci’s masterpiece Mona Lisa for at least €50 billion, a tech CEO has suggested.

Stephane Distinguin, founder and CEO of tech company Fabernovel, told Usbek & Rica magazine that the country should “sell the family jewellery” to help deal with the “unfathomable” crisis.

“Day after day, we list the billions engulfed in this slump like children counting the fall of a stone into a well to measure its depth,” Distinguin said.

“We are still counting, and this crisis seems unfathomable.

“As an entrepreneur and a taxpayer, I know that these billions are not invented and that they will necessarily cost us. An obvious reflex is to sell off a valuable asset at the highest price possible, but one that is the least critical as possible to our future.”

Distinguin said France has “a lot of paintings”, which are “easy to move and therefore to hand over”.

He said: “In 2020, we have to get the money where it is. So sell family jewellery … The price is the crux of the matter and the main subject of controversy. The price has to be insane for the operation to make sense.”

The 46-year-old also suggested that the 16th century Italian Renaissance painting could be “tokenised” with a form of cryptocurrency, allowing it to be shared between countries around the world.

“It would be like a big global subscription,” he said. “Legally and technically, this solution would have many advantages: it would allow France and the Louvre to keep control of the painting.” 

The International Monetary Fund expected France’s GDP to contract by 7.2 per cent in 2020 as a result of the coronavirus outbreak. Many French tourism operators also fear the country will remain off-limits to international visitors this year.

This article originally appeared on Over60.