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Los Angeles museum to get biggest-ever art gift

November 6, 2014

LOS ANGELES (AP) — An entertainment executive pledged a collection of paintings by Pablo Picasso, Claude Monet, Edgar Degas and other major artists to the Los Angeles County Museum of Art on Thursday, a donation the institution called the largest in its history.

“Los Angeles helped make my career possible,” said Jerry Perenchio, the former chairman and CEO of Univision who has lived in the city for 70 years. “My family and I are proud and honored to be able to give something back to a wonderful city.”

The collection consists of about 47 pieces, including paintings, works on paper and sculpture, and the majority of it focuses on the 1870s through the 1930s. Among the pieces are Impressionist paintings by Monet, Edouard Manet and Paul Cezanne; a surrealist work by Rene Magritte; and a 1909 portrait by Picasso that presages his later Cubist efforts.

The museum declined to put a value on the collection, but CEO Michael Govan said at a press conference that “LACMA could never afford to buy these artworks on our own.”

The collection also includes works by Fernand Leger, Camille Pissaro and Pierre Bonnard.

“In sum, this collection comprises the greatest gift of art to LACMA in its history,” Govan said.

The bequest, which goes into effect after Perenchio’s death, comes with one condition: The museum must first complete construction of a new building designed by Swiss architect Peter Zumthor, which is planned for 2023.

The Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors on Wednesday approved a tentative plan for a $600 million redesign of the museum’s campus, which would include tearing down and replacing most of its structures.

The centerpiece of the renovation would be a huge, amoeba-shaped building featuring gallery space in the form of a bridge over Wilshire Boulevard.

The usually camera-shy Perenchio said he came into the spotlight to encourage gift-giving by others, calling a dedication to the arts the “heart and soul” of any city.

He said he hopes to “encourage all types of donations, large and small. Hopefully more large than small.”

In 2006, Perenchio announced the sale of Univision to an investor group for $13.5 billion. Prior to that, he co-owned Loews Theaters and Tandem Productions, which was responsible for television hits including “All in the Family” and “Diff’rent Strokes.”

Perenchio began his career as a talent agent, with a roster of clients including Marlon Brando and Elizabeth Taylor.

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