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Metropolitan Museum of Art receives $1 billion Cubist art donation from Leonard Lauder

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The Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York has received a $1 billion donation of Cubist art from Estee Lauder heir, Leonard Lauder.

Leonard Lauder, 80, has pledged 78 works – considered one of the foremost collections of Cubism in the world.

The collection includes pieces from Pablo Picasso, Georges Braque, Juan Gris and Fernand Leger, amassed over 37 years.

The Met’s director Thomas Campbell said the gift was “truly transformational”.

The Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York has received a $1 billion donation of Cubist art from Estee Lauder heir, Leonard Lauder

The Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York has received a $1 billion donation of Cubist art from Estee Lauder heir, Leonard Lauder

In a statement, Leonard Lauder said his gift was for “the people who live and work in New York and those from around the world who come to visit our great arts institutions”.

The museum said it had previously “lacked” early 20th Century art, but with Leonard Lauder’s donation it would be at the forefront of world collections.

“We have long lacked this critical dimension in the story of modernism. Now, Cubism will be represented with some of its greatest masterpieces,” Thomas Campbell said.

The collection “distinguished by its quality, focus, and depth,” includes 33 Picassos, 17 works by Georges Braque and 14 by Juan Gris and Fernand Leger.

Leonard Lauder built it up over nearly four decades, telling the story of a movement that revolutionized modern art and paved the way for abstraction.

“I selected the Met as the way to share this collection because I feel that it’s essential that Cubism – and the art that follows it, for that matter – be seen and studied within the collections of one of the greatest encyclopaedic museums in the world,” he said.

The collection is thought to be worth around 13% of Leonard Lauders’ personal fortune according to Forbes magazine which it said “enshrines him in the pantheon of the most generous philanthropists of all time”.

The Metropolitan Museum of Art was founded in 1870 by a group of American citizens and opened on February 20, 1872. It is the largest art museum in the US, and one of the three largest in the world, with the most significant art collections. The museum’s permanent collection contains more than two million works, divided among seventeen curatorial departments.


Meanwhile, letters written by J. D. Salinger to a spiritual mentor have been donated to The Morgan Library and Museum in Manhattan.

J. D. Salinger wrote 28 letters to Swami Vivekananda, founder of the Ramakrishna-Vivekananda Centre, which donated the correspondence.

The author, who died in 2010 aged 91, was strongly influenced by Eastern religion and philosophy and mentioned Vivekananda in his story Hapworth 16, 1924.

The Morgan Museum now holds 52 letters written by J.D. Salinger in its collection.