Beauty Baron Bestows Billions


Laura Li

One of the Pablo Picasso paintings donated from the Lauder collection
One of the Pablo Picasso paintings donated from the Lauder collection

On April 9th, Philanthropist and cosmetics tycoon Leonard A. Lauder, heir to Estee Lauder’s massive cosmetics fortune, has gifted his collection of 78 Cubist paintings, drawings and sculpture to New York‘s Metropolitan Museum of Art. This collection is considered as the most significant contribution in the museum’s history.
Forbes values the collection at $1.1 billion, according to Forbes, the Cubist collection accounts for about 13.5% of Lauder’s total net worth — and drops his fortune to $7 billion. Prior to Lauder’s gift, only 23 individuals in the world had donated more than $1 billion over the course of their lifetimes (this list includes Bill Gates, Warren Buffett, Eli Broad, George Kaiser, Michael Bloomberg, and George Lucas).
According to The New York Times, Scholars say the collection is among the world’s greatest, as good as, if not better than, the renowned Cubist paintings, drawings and sculptures in institutions like the Museum of Modern Art in New York, the State Hermitage Museum in St. Petersburg and the Pompidou Center in Paris. Together they tell the story of a movement that revolutionized Modern art and fill a glaring gap in the Met’s collection, which has been notably weak in early-20th-century art.
The gift of 33 Picassos, 17 Braques, 14 Grises and 14 Légers is will be given permanently and without condition to the Met. And according to the Met’s Director, Thomas P. Campbell the collection “In one fell swoop puts the Met at the forefront of early-20th-century art…It is an unreproducible collection, something museum directors only dream about.”