Leonard Lauder, Estee Lauder cosmetics heir and billionaire, has given over $1 billion worth of Cubist art to New York’s Metropolitan Museum of Art.
The extraordinary gift amounts to 78 Cubist art works including 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) and includes 33 Picassos, 17 Braques, 14 Légers, and 14 works by Gris.
The collection took Lauder four decades to collect.
In a statement, the Estee Lauder heir his gift was for “the people who live and work in New York and those from around the world who come to visit our great arts institutions.”
The 80-year-old added that he chose the Met to house his collection because he felt it was essential that Cubism and the art it inspired should be seen and studied within “one of the greatest encyclopedic museums in the world.”
Lauder, son of cosmetics tycoon Estée Lauder, has previously gifted art to New York’s Whitney Museum of American Art a noted gallery of which he is also the chairman emeritus.
Thomas Campbell, Director of the Metropolitan Museum of Art,said of the gift:
“Leonard’s gift is truly transformational for the Metropolitan Museum. 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. This is an extraordinary gift to our museum and our city.”
The New York museum also said Lauder’s collection contains masterpieces that were critical to the development of Cubism, which is widely considered to be the most influential art movement of the last century. It’s thought the donation will galvanize the Met’s holdings of early 20th century works which it lacked.
The museum will open the Cubist collection to public viewing by late 2014.