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LACMA receives $500 million in art from billionaire

November 7, 2014
A billionaire announced Thursday he would donate 47 pieces of artwork valued at about $500 million to the Los Angeles County Museum of Art. (Park Sang-hyuk/The Korea Times)

Jerry Perenchio, fourth from right, announced Thursday he would donate 47 pieces of artwork valued at about $500 million to the Los Angeles County Museum of Art. (Park Sang-hyuk/The Korea Times)

Claude Monet's 1881 "The Artist's Garden at Vethéuil."

Claude Monet’s 1881 “The Artist’s Garden at Vethéuil.”

LOS ANGELES (CNS) – Former film producer and ex-Univision Communications Chairman and CEO Jerrold Perenchio announced today plans to bequeath a major portion of his extensive art collection to the Los Angeles County Museum of Art – the largest-ever art donation to the museum.

The donation will include masterpieces by Bonnard, Degas, Picasso, Manet, Monet and Pissarro.

“LACMA has made tremendous progress over the past seven years under (CEO) Michael Govan’s leadership, along with the support of the Board of Trustees and the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors,” the 83-year-old Perenchio said. “With the newly proposed Peter Zumthor building poised to deliver LACMA through the 21st Century and beyond, I decided 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,” he said.

“It’s a coup for the public of Los Angeles,” LACMA Director Michael Govan told the Los Angeles Times. “LACMA could never afford to buy works of art like this. It’s an unthinkable thing at this point.”

The Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors Wednesday approved $125 million in funding for a 400,000-square-foot museum — designed by Zumthor – that will replace four existing structures on LACMA’s mid-Wilshire campus.

The Ahmanson and Hammer buildings and Bing Center at LACMA were built in 1965. The fourth structure set for demolition, the Art of the Americas Building, was completed in 1985. 

“The 1965 buildings are really ailing. They are not worth saving,” Govan told the board Wednesday. He said the buildings have water damage and failing mechanical systems. 

The Zumthor building is expected to cost about $600 million, with the balance of the funds coming from private donations collected over a period of 20 years. To expedite design and construction, the county is expected to issue bonds to cover project costs while private donations are being solicited.  

Newer museum properties, including the Broad Contemporary Art Museum and Resnick Pavilion, will be used as collateral for the bonds. Construction is expected to begin in 2019 and to be completed in 2023. The museum plans to remain open throughout the project. 

Govan called Perenchio’s donation the “cornerstone of our future.” 

“Without this collection, LACMA could not tell the story of Impressionism and the birth of Modern art,” he said. “Mr. Perenchio’s artworks will become some of this museum’s greatest highlights.” 

Although the donation will not be finalized until the completion of the new building, LACMA officials said select works from Perenchio’s collection would go on display next spring, coinciding with the museum’s 50th anniversary. 

The Los Angeles Times reported that the donation of at least 47 works has a value of about $500 million. 

Among the works that will be donated are Edgar Degas’ “Au Cafe Concert: La Chanson du Chien” from 1875; Edouard Manet’s  ”M. Gauthier-Lathuillefils” from 1879; Claude Monet’s “Le Jardin de l’artist a Vetheuil” from 1881; and Pablo Picasso’s “Tete (Head of Fernande)” from 1909. 

Before the one-time talent agent acquired Univision, Perenchio was a co-owner of Avco Embassy Picture Corp. Bought for $25 million in 1981, Avco was sold four years later for $485 million, and Univision, purchased for $550 million in 1992, was sold in 2007 for $13.7 billion. 

Perenchio worked with Norman Lear and Bud Yorkin at Tandem Productions, which produced shows such as “All in the Family” and “Sanford and Son,” along with the film “Blade Runner.” Perenchio later produced the films “Driving Miss Daisy” and “Frida.” 

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