Estee Lauder heir gifts $1bn worth of cubist art to the MET

Reuters, Thursday 11 Apr 2013

Estee Lauder cosmetics heir and billionaire Leonard Lauder has donated a collection of 78 Cubist artworks valued at more than $1 billion to New York's Metropolitan Museum of Art

The Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York. (Photo: Reuters)
The Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York. (Photo: Reuters)

Cosmetics heir and art collector Leonard A. Lauder donated his collection of 78 Cubist works, valued at more than $1 billion, to New York’s Metropolitan Museum of Art, its director said Tuesday.

The collection, which consists of 33 works by Pablo Picasso, 17 by Georges Braque, 14 by Juan Gris and 14 by Fernand Léger, was amassed over 37 years and is considered one of the world’s foremost collections of Cubism.

“This is an extraordinary gift to our museum and our city,” Thomas P. Campbell, director and chief executive of the museum, said in a statement.

“Leonard’s gift is truly transformational for the Metropolitan Museum.”

The museum said that the collection is unsurpassed in the number of masterpieces critical to the development of Cubism, which is considered the most influential art movement of the 20th century.

Lauder, 80, an heir to the Estee Lauder cosmetics fortune, said he decided to give the collection to the museum because he thought it essential that Cubism, and the art that followed it, be seen and studied within one of the world’s greatest museums.

“The Met’s collection of modernism, together with those of MoMA, the Guggenheim, and the Whitney, reinforce the city’s standing as the center for 20th-century art and fuel New York’s ongoing role as the art capital of the world,” he said in a statement.

The museum said that it is establishing a research center for modern art that will be supported by a $22 million endowment funded by museum trustees and supporters, including Lauder.

Picasso’s “The Scallop Shell” (“Notre avenir est dans l’air”) (1912), “Woman in an Armchair” (Eva) (1913), Braque’s “Trees at L’Estaque” (1908) and “The Violin” (Mozart/Kubelick) (1912) are among the highlights of the collection, which will be presented at the museum for the first time in an exhibition scheduled to open in fall 2014.

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