An Art Donor Opts to Hold On to His Collection by Edward Wyatt

Eli Broad’s decision to retain permanent control of his private collection rather than gift it to LACMA “represents no less than a new paradigm for the way museums in general collect art and interact with one another.” In this 2008 article, New York Times critic Edward Wyatt addresses the Broad Contemporary Art Museum at LACMA and the donation that wasn’t.

He writes, “Eli Broad, the billionaire financier and philanthropist whose private collection of some 2,000 works of Modern and contemporary art is one of the most sought-after by museums nationwide, has decided to retain permanent control of his works in an independent foundation that makes loans to museums rather than give any of the art away.

The decision is a striking reversal by Mr. Broad, who as recently as a year ago said that he planned to give most of his holdings to one or several museums.

Coming on the eve of the opening, the decision is a potential embarrassment for the Los Angeles museum. It was widely criticized in 2001 for mounting a major exhibition of works from Mr. Broad’s collection without having secured a promised gift of the works, an act that is prohibited at many prominent art institutions because it can increase the market value of the collection.

The decision also has far-reaching implications for the way museums interact with big donors. In recent years a dizzying rise in art prices and an abiding institutional thirst for acquisitions have given well-heeled donors more influence over what a museum buys and puts on its walls.”

SOURCE: Edward Wyatt, “An Art Donor Opts to Hold On to His Collection,” The New York Times, January 8, 2008. Continue reading at link below: