The billionair heir of Cosmetics Company Estee Lauder and art collector Leonard A. Lauder decided to donate to New York’s Metropolitan Museum of Arts (Met) an exquisite collection of cubist artworks, a Cubist trove, of $1bn estimated value.
The Leonard A. Lauder Collection, distinguished by its quality, focus, and depth, includes 33 works by Picasso, 17 by Braque, 14 by Gris, and 14 by Léger. It is unsurpassed in the number of masterpieces and iconic works critical to the development of Cubism. Among the highlights of the collection are: Picasso’s The Scallop Shell (“Notre avenir est dans l’air”) (1912), Woman in an Armchair (Eva) (1913), and Still Life with Cards, Glasses, and Bottle of Rum: “Vive la France” (1914; partially reworked 1915); Braque’s Trees at L’Estaque (1908) and The Violin (Mozart/Kubelick) (1912); Léger’s Houses under the Trees (1913) and Composition (The Typographer) (1917-18); and Gris’s Portrait of the Artist’s Mother (1912) and Figure Seated in a Café (Man at a Table) (1914).
“This is an extraordinary gift to our museum and our city,” Thomas P. Campbell, director and CEO of the museum, said in a statement. “Although the Met is unique in its ability to exhibit over 5,000 years of art history, we have long lacked this critical dimension in the story of modernism.”
Mr. Lauder commented: “This is a gift to the people who live and work in New York and those from around the world who come to visit our great arts institutions. The arts are a cornerstone of the cultural, educational, and economic vitality of the City. I selected the Met as the way to share this collection because I feel that it’s essential that Cubism—and the art that follows it, for that matter—be seen and studied within the collections of one of the greatest encyclopedic museums in the world. 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.”
“Leonard’s gift is truly transformational for the Metropolitan Museum,” stated Mr. Campbell in making the announcement. “Although the Met is unique in its ability to exhibit over 5,000 years of art history, we have long lacked this critical dimension in the story of modernism. Now, Cubism will be represented with some of its greatest masterpieces, demonstrating both its role as the groundbreaking movement of the 20th century and the foundation for an artistic dialogue that continues today. This is an extraordinary gift to our Museum and our City.”
The museum said it is establishing a new research center for modern art which will be supported by a $22 million endowment funded by museum trustees and supporters, including Lauder.
As for the Cubist trove, Forbes reports it “signifies a gift of 13.5% of Lauder’s total net worth — and drops his fortune to $7 billion” . “It also enshrines him in the pantheon of the most generous philanthropists of all time.”
Mr. Lauder commented: “This is a gift to the people who live and work in New York and those from around the world who come to visit our great arts institutions”.