New York: A leading philanthropist and cosmetics tycoon has donated his collection of 78 Cubist works valued at more than a USD 1 billion to New York`s Metropolitan Museum of Arts.
80-year-old Leonard A Lauder, heir to the Estee Lauder cosmetics fortune, has donated 33 works by Pablo Picasso, 17 by Braque, 14 by Gris and 14 by Leger; a collection amassed over 37 years and valued at about USD 1.1 billion, 13.5 per cent of Lauder`s USD 8.1 billion personal fortune.
In a statement, 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".
According to Forbes, which specialises in tracking the super wealthy, Lauder becomes the 24th individual in the world to donate more than USD 1 billion over the course of their lifetimes.
"He now stands shoulder to shoulder on that list with the likes of Bill Gates, Warren Buffett, Eli Broad, George Kaiser, Michael Bloomberg, George Lucas and others," Forbes reported.
"This is an extraordinary gift to our museum and our city," Thomas P Campbell, director and CEO of the museum, said in a statement. "Leonard`s gift is truly transformational for the Metropolitan Museum".
New York`s Metropolitan Museum of Arts, or the Met as it is popularly known, is a world-class institution that has long suffered a hole in its early 20th century art collection, will be transformed by the completeness and quality of the sudden addition.
"In one fell swoop this puts the Met at the forefront of early-20th-century art. It is an (irreproducible) collection, something museum directors only dream about," Met director and CEO Thomas Campbell told The New York Times.
"Although the Met is unique in its ability to exhibit over 5,000 years of art history, we have long lacked this critical dimension in the story of modernism. Now, Cubism will be represented with some of its greatest masterpieces," Campbell said.
Among the masterpieces are paintings that were critical to the revolutionary early 20th century artistic movement of Cubism. Highlights include Picasso`s "The Scallop Shell (Notre avenir est dans l`air)" from 1912, and "Woman in an Armchair (Eva)," from 1913.
The Lauder Collection will be unveiled late in 2014, the museum said.
Along with the collection, the Met announced the creation of the Leonard A Lauder Research Centre for Modern Art to serve as a mecca for scholars and curators studying Cubism, which will be supported by a USD 22 million endowment funded by museum trustees and supporters, including Lauder.
Lauder is the chairman emeritus of the Estee Lauder Co. and son of the late cosmetics queen by the same name.