Met to Receive $1 Billion in Cubist Masterworks

April 9th, 2013

Juan Gris, Figure Seated in a Café (Man at a Table) (1914). via New York Times
Juan Gris, Figure Seated in a Café (Man at a Table) (1914). via New York Times

Leonard Lauder, the former chairman of Estée Lauder and a noted collector of early 20th century art, has donated a vast collection of Cubist works to the Metropolitan Museum of Art, valued at more than $1 billion.

Pablo Picasso, Woman in an Armchair (Eva) (1913), via New York Times
Pablo Picasso, Woman in an Armchair (Eva) (1913), via New York Times

The collection of works, which includes 33 Picassos, 17 Braques, 14 Légers and 14 works by Gris, fills a major gap in The Met’s collection, which has faced criticism in the past for being relatively weak on early 20th century art.  “In one fell swoop this puts the Met at the forefront of early-20th-century art,” said director Thomas P. Campbell. “It is an unreproducible collection, something museum directors only dream about.”

Leonard Lauder, via New York Times
Leonard Lauder, via New York Times

Mr. Lauder has built his collection over the past 40 years, focusing almost exclusively on Cubist art.  Buying selectively from some of the best collections in the world, including those of Gertrude Stein and Douglas Cooper, he slowly amassed a museum-quality collection that includes a number of historically significant works.  “You can’t put together a good collection unless you are focused, disciplined, tenacious and willing to pay more than you can possibly afford,” Mr. Lauder said. “Early on I decided this should be formed as a museum collection,” and “whenever I considered buying anything, I would step back and ask myself, does this make the cut?”

Georges Braque, Trees at L'Estaque (1908), via New York Times
Georges Braque, Trees at L’Estaque (1908), via New York Times

Mr. Lauder’s collection will be exhibited in part during a 2014 exhibition at the museum.

Read more at The New York Times