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Leonard Lauder Gives Away Entire Collection of Cubist Masterpieces

Leonard Lauder Gives Away Entire Collection of Cubist Masterpieces

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“You only regret what you do not buy,” Leonard A. Lauder‘s mother, the famous Estée Lauder, told him.  But, after purchasing it, do you regret giving it away?

Accumulated over some forty years, Lauder has purchased quite the collection of Cubist art — widely believed to be the most comprehensive private collection of works from the period — and, in a fit of philanthropy last year, he promised it to the Metropolitan Museum of Art.


Now, this isn’t the first time Lauder has bestowed a blessing on an art museum, but when he offered his world-class collection of Cubist art — from the likes of Picasso, Léger, Braque, and Gris — the world took notice.

“I wanted to transform a museum,” Lauder explained of his gift, “… and I believe it will transform the Met.”


Opening just a few days ago at the Metropolitan Museum of Art,  Cubism: The Leonard A. Lauder Collection features 81 pieces — paintings, drawings, sculptures and collages — that used to grace the walls of Lauder’s home, including  such landmark paintings as Picasso’s landscape The Oil Mill (1909) and Still Life with Fan: “L’Indépendant” (1911), as well as Braque’s Fruit Dish and Glass (1912), the very first Cubist papier collé (paper collage) ever created.

Now that his walls are emptier, is Lauder having givers’ remorse?  Judging by his activities since making his promised gift to the Met, likely not.

Georges Braque's Trees at L’Estaque (1908)

Lauder said he would continue to acquire and donate works for the collection, which originally contained 79 pieces.  But the collection now includes 81 works.  In less than a year he has added a work on paper by Picasso, a still life by Gris, and The Village, a painting by Léger.

Cubism: The Leonard A. Lauder Collection remains in the Met’s first floor exhibit galleries through February 16, 2015.