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A. Jerrold Perenchio’s $500 million gift to LACMA

13 November 2014

A few days ago, who in the global art world had heard much about A. Jerrold Perenchio? Film buffs might remember he and Bud Yorkin produced the cult film Blade Runner (1982). Far more know him today as the former chairman and CEO of Univision, the largest Spanish-language television company in the US, with 52 million viewers. He is the biggest landowner in Los Angeles’ prime oceanside Malibu district and one of its wealthiest residents. He definitely does philanthropy – some $50 million so far. But pictures?

Then, on 6 November, the US art world was rocked. Perenchio announced he would be giving the core of his art collection to Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA) for their planned new building, specifically to help encourage financing to get it built. Indeed, the previous day the LA County Board of Supervisors said they would contribute $125 million and more, to be matched by $465 million of private support. So, some people must have been in on the secret.

(1924), Fernand Léger

Femme au bouquet (1924), Fernand Léger © 2014 Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York / ADAGP, Paris

The gift of European art, mostly dating from the 1870s to 1930s, will dramatically transform LACMA’s holdings in that field. The 47 paintings, sculptures and works on paper include some radical and inventive pieces. Here is a soupçon: Claude Monet’s classic Nymphaeas (c. 1905), his still life Asters (1880) and one version of Le Jardin de l’artist à Vétheuil (1881). There are significant pieces by Edouard Manet, Camille Pissarro and Fernand Léger. There is Pablo Picasso’s Tête (Head of Fernande) (1909), Pierre Bonnard’s Après le repas (1925), and René Magritte’s Les Liaisons Dangereuses (1935). The earliest work in the gift is Jean-Baptiste Carpeaux’s sculpture La Danse (1865) made for Charles Garnier’s Paris Opéra; more recent ones are by Marc Chagall and Jasper Johns. (Click here for a gallery of some of the highlights)

The new building, designed by Swiss architect Peter Zumthor, will replace four of LACMA’s current group of seven buildings with the aim of displaying its permanent collection better and incorporating conservation and study facilities. ‘I decided’, said Perenchio, ‘that now was the perfect time to announce that I intend to leave the most important part of my art collection to the museum. Hopefully, my gift will serve as a catalyst to encourage other collectors to do the same and also stimulate major private donations to ensure that the Peter Zumthor building is built in a timely manner.’

In other words: roll up you Angelinos, and let’s get this job done. To inspire people, a selection from Perenchio’s gift will go on show next spring to mark LACMA’s 50th birthday.

Click here for a gallery of some of the highlights from the gift

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