Billionaire Jerrold Perenchio Gifts $500 Million to LACMA

The Magrittes, Monets, and Manets will be displayed in the planned new building.

Claude Monet, Nymphéas (1905). One of the paintings donated to the Los Angeles County Museum of Art by A. Jerrold Perenchio. Courtesy of the Los Angeles County Museum of Art.

The Los Angeles County Museum of Art has announced two impressive new developments: reclusive billionaire philanthropist A. Jerrold Perenchio has donated the bulk of his art collection, worth approximately $500 million, to the museum. In addition to the gift by Perenchio (who was reportedly responsible for launching the US career of Elton John), the museum has received another windfall. The city of Los Angeles has approved $125 million in municipal funds to be spent on the museum’s Peter-Zumthor-designed expansion plan.

The Perenchio collection, which contains at least 47 artworks, will give a huge boost to the museum’s existing holdings in 19th- and 20th-century art. Including pieces by Cézanne, Magritte, Degas, Manet, Monet, and Picasso, most of Perenchio’s collection of paintings, sculptures, and works on paper, dates from the 1870s through the 1930s.

“Gifts of this magnitude are incredibly rare, especially in the fields of Impressionist and Modern art,” said LACMA director Michael Govan in a statement. “2015 will be LACMA’s 50th anniversary, and it is simply astounding to see how far this museum has come in just a few decades.”

A Few Strings Attached

The gift, which is intended for the planned new building, does come with a few strings: if the museum does not finish construction by 2023, when a new metro station is scheduled to be completed, the gift will be retracted. “Failure is not an option here,” Perenchio said at a press conference, according to Art in America. “We have to do it.”

Luckily, LACMA’s ambitious expansion plan has just received a major boost in the form of $125 million from the city. The project is expected to cost $600 million and the museum is expected to raise the remaining $475 million.

The expansion plans, which will replace seven smaller buildings with an integrated 410,000 square-foot building, have already been adjusted to ensure the preservation of the La Brea Tar Pits (see “LACMA Tweaks Expansion Plan To Make Space for Tar Pits“). If Govan has his way, more construction will follow, including a condo that will potentially be designed by Frank Gehry, which has already gotten its share of detractors (see “LACMA Condo Tower Plan Angers Angelenos“).

This impressive pairing of city funding and private giving follows on the heels of the museum’s fall gala, held over the weekend and attended by Kanye West and Kim Kardashian. The event raised a not-too-shabby $3.85 million. All in all, the museum’s finances appear to be in good shape as the institution prepares to move forward with its planned expansion.

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