Culture

LA museum to get major gift from Hollywood mogul

Jerry Perenchio, second left, is donating artwork worth $500 million to the Los Angeles County Museum of Art.

LOS ANGELES: In a town famously built on self-promotion, Hollywood mogul Jerry Perenchio has always preferred to stay out of the spotlight, which he says “fades your suit.”

But the 83-year-old has now stepped into the glare of the Los Angeles art scene to donate works by Monet, Degas, Picasso and other artists, valued at $500 million, in the largest gift ever made to the Los Angeles County Museum of Art.

The 83-year-old former chairman and chief executive of the Spanish-language Univision TV network will donate at least 47 masterworks of impressionism and modernism to LACMA. These include paintings, works on paper and sculptures, mostly created between 1870 and the 1930s.

“For many years, I have given charitable donations anonymously and really stayed in the woodwork,” the press-averse Perenchio told Reuters, after announcing his gift.

“I thought it was very important to get the biggest bang for our buck,” he added, “and that is why I decided to step out for a brief moment and give the art and ask for the donations.”

Perenchio wants to use the gift to encourage other donors and collectors to support a new $600 million building at LACMA by architect Peter Zumthor, set to be completed by 2023. Construction has yet to begin.

Los Angeles County’s supervisors unanimously voted Wednesday to allocate $125 million for the project, which will replace four of the museum’s seven buildings along Wilshire Boulevard.

The museum, which has one of the largest collections in the United States, with 110,000 objects, would receive the works only after Perenchio’s death and the donation is contingent on the completion of the Zumthor building.

Among the works are three significant paintings by French Impressionist Claude Monet, including a 1905 painting of water lilies.

The donation of Edouard Manet’s portrait of “M. Gauthier-Lathuille fils” from 1879 will be the first painting by the French Impressionist to enter LACMA’s collection.

Other works include an early cubist drawing from Pablo Picasso, as well as paintings from French cubist Fernand Leger and Belgian surrealist Rene Magritte.

“We live in a modern city and modernism has shaped our everyday life,” said Michael Govan, the museum’s director, “and to tell the story of late 19th-century art and the birth of modernism is an incredible thing for LACMA.”

Perenchio began his career in Hollywood as an agent before moving on to film and television production. He is known for organizing the 1973 “Battle of the Sexes” tennis match between Billie Jean King and Bobby Riggs and produced sci-fi thriller “Blade Runner” and Oscar best picture “Driving Miss Daisy.”

Forbes estimates his net worth at $2.7 billion.

“I have lived in Los Angeles for 70 years and I owe a lot of the success in my career to this city” Perenchio said. “I wanted to give something back.”

 
A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Daily Star on November 11, 2014, on page 16.

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