'Extraordinary gift' includes pieces by Picasso, Braque and Gris
Cosmetics billionaire Leonard Lauder has given New York's Metropolitan Museum of Art an astonishing, no-strings-attached collection of Cubist art that he assembled over four decades, the museum announced on Tuesday.
The collection of 78 works includes pieces from Pablo Picasso, Georges Braque, Juan Gris and Fernand Leger and is considered one of the most pre-eminent Cubism collections in the world. It's valued at more than $1 billion.
The Met, a world-class institution that has long suffered a hole in its early 20th century art collection, will be transformed by the completeness and quality of the sudden addition.
The museum will also establish a new research center for modern art, supported by a $22 million endowment created by donors including Lauder, it was announced.
"Leonard's gift is truly transformational for the Metropolitan Museum," said Met Director and CEO Thomas Campbell.
"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," he said.
"This is an extraordinary gift to our museum and our city."
In a statement, Lauder, an 80-year-old heir to the Estee Lauder cosmetics fortune, said his gift is for "the people who live and work in New York and those from around the world who come to visit our great arts institutions.
"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 Lauder Collection will be unveiled late in 2014, the museum said.