An Online-Gaming Billionaire Hopes His $3 Million Gift to James Turrell Will Make the Long-Delayed ‘Roden Crater’ a Reality

The gift was announced at a party in Los Angeles hosted by Pace and Kayne Griffin Corcoran.

Mark Pincus is the cofounder of Zynga, an online gaming enterprise. Photo by Drew Angerer/Getty Images.

Four decades have passed since Light and Space artist James Turrell first began working on his pièce de résistanceRoden Crater, a Land Art mammoth that requires transforming the site of an extinct volcano in Arizona’s Painted Desert into a celestial observatory. Should it ever get finished, it could be a masterpiece.

Now, it’s one step closer to getting done.

On Thursday night, coinciding with the VIP preview of the Frieze Los Angeles art fair, Pace Gallery and Kayne Griffin Corcoran cohosted a party for the artist, and announced a new $3 million gift toward the project given by billionaire Mark Pincus, founder of the Zynga mobile and online game empire.

“There’s so many things about it that really moved me,” Pincus told the Los Angeles Times, noting how many years the artist had devoted to the work.

Grimes performing at a party hosted by Pace and Kayne Griffin Corcoran for James Turrell's <i>Roden Crater</i> artwork. ©BFA Photos: Linnea Stephan and Eunji Kim/

Grimes performing at a party hosted by Pace and Kayne Griffin Corcoran for James Turrell’s Roden Crater artwork. ©BFA Photos: Linnea Stephan and Eunji Kim/

“The project itself feels, to me, like modern-day pyramids,” he aded. “The ambition and scale and scope of it is something that has the potential to be something that people, many generations from now, will be able to experience and get something amazing from—maybe something beyond what we can imagine today.”

The buzzy LA event where the announcement was made featured a performance by Grimes and plenty of art-world A-listers, along with celebrities such as Leonardo DiCaprio and his girlfriend Camila Morrone; tennis star Maria Sharapova; artist Mary Corse; billionaire collector Steve Cohen; Museum of Contemporary Art director Klaus Biesenbach; and Los Angeles County Museum of Art director Michael Govan. (Govan is also the president of the Skystone Foundation, which oversees the Roden Crater.)

At Frieze, Kayne Griffin Corcoran is showing a single, immersive work by Turrell, while Pace is showing smaller, geometric light works.

A promotional image for Kanye West's Film <i>Jesus is King </i>. Courtesy of IMAX.

A promotional image for Kanye West’s Film Jesus is King . Courtesy of IMAX.

The opening of Roden Crater is expected to be announced within the next five years and is still contingent upon funding. Last year, Kanye West donated $10 million to the project and shot his short film, Jesus Is King, inside Roden Crater. Turrell has given tours of the site, at a cost of $6,500 per person, to raise funds, and Arizona State University has signed on to help him raise $200 million, according to the Los Angeles Times.

Friends of Roden Crater lists roughly 100 supporters, including individuals, foundations, corporations, and the “celestial circle” which includes just two people: Kanye West and philanthropist David Booth.

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