Working on any land, of course, requires permits. And, as Christo says, “everything in the world belongs to somebody.” Wherever he decided to install The Floating Piers, he’d need to pay rent. Ultimately, he settled on a northern Italian lake because of ease and familiarity. He’d long vacationed in Italy with Jeanne-Claude, so he was comfortable with the area. Additionally, the Italian government was unusually lax about building restrictions. Elsewhere, for safety reasons, Christo would have needed to erect barriers on either side of the piers—a dealbreaker for him, as he believed they’d ruin his artwork’s magic. The Italians, however, didn’t care.
In 2014, Christo began coordinating the details and hiring the staff that would help him realize The Floating Piers. His team grew to include lawyers, engineers, and a variety of other professional people—a group akin to what is needed for erecting buildings or bridges. Christo considers the project closer to architecture than to sculpture. He even built the piece to last; it was his conceptual choice—and pocketbook—that made it only temporary.
Renting the water itself, and the medieval town around which the piers wrapped, cost $170,000. But ultimately, Christo paid nearly $17 million of his own money to fund The Floating Piers. He used profits from sales of his previous work.