Are You a Small-Town Museum In Need of a Big-Time Loan? Congratulations! TV Host John Oliver Will Lend You His Weird Art Collection

Oliver is also giving away $10,000 each to museums and food banks in their surrounding areas.

John Oliver with his art collection. Courtesy of Last Week Tonight via Twitter.
John Oliver with his art collection. Courtesy of Last Week Tonight via Twitter.

To close out his latest episode of Last Week Tonight, host John Oliver mused on the plight of museums—or “history’s Instagram,” as he calls them.

He pointed to various institutions’ efforts to combat the financial reckoning of the past six months, from those that have hawked their own artworks to raise money, to others that have invited zoo animals in to roam the empty halls for a photo op. 

Now, the host is hoping to help some of these venues with a proposition.

Oliver is offering to send out some of the weird works of art he’s featured on the show—such as an after-dark illustration of two rats getting it on and a still-life painting by the wife of national economic council director Larry Kudlow—to five museums across the country for two weeks at a time. Each loan will come with a $10,000 donation to the institution and an additional donation in the same amount to a food bank in the area.   

“We’ve dabbled a bit in the art market this year and have acquired a small but high-quality collection of modern masterpieces,” Oliver said smugly on the show. “Tonight, I’m proud to announce that this collection is available to go on tour. That is right, we’re inviting any US museum—as long as they can safely show them—to apply to host these masterpieces.” 

Interested institutions are invited to email [email protected] by November 1 with their pitches.

Arty esoterica has made many a cameo appearance in the comedian’s late night bits. Two years ago, Oliver purchased several movie-worn Russell Crowe costumes from the actor’s shameless “Art of Divorce” sale at Sotheby’s, including a crude leather jock strap from Cinderella Man. This April, the host tracked down a 28-year-old artwork once featured on a televised art auction for a PBS station in Pennsylvania. It depicts two anthropomorphized rats in bed, enwrapped in a tender, post-coital hug. 

He also took the opportunity on Sunday night’s show to debut the latest addition to his collection: a velvety portrait of Wendy Williams chowing down on a lamb chop. Apparently the fellow TV host gifted Oliver the piece of fan art after he praised her approach to broadcasting from quarantine earlier this year. 

“If selected soon,” Oliver said to potential applicants to close the show, “you too will be able to feast your eyes on true art like Wendy is feasting upon that lambchop. You will not regret it. I promise.”


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