Philanthropists Donate Works Worth $400 Million To Art Institute Of Chicago

Photo Credit: Wikipedia

Photo Credit: Wikipedia

Stefan Edlis and his wife Gael Neeson are donating their private art collection, estimated to be worth about $400 million, to the Art Institute of Chicago.

The Institute’s trustees held a formal meeting yesterday (April 21) to accept the generous donation.

“This is one of the landmark gifts in our 136-year history,” museum president and director Douglas Druick said, according to The Chicago Tribune.

The 200-work collection, including photographs, sculptures, and paintings created between 1953 and 2011, will be displayed in the Institute’s Modern Wing for 50 years starting next January.

“It’s a powerful statement to have a collection of this international stature staying here in Chicago. It’s unbelievably exciting for the Art Institute, for the City of Chicago, for the entire art community of Chicago. It’s all good,” Institute board chairman Robert Levy said.

Edlis is particularly happy that the museum offered to keep the items on display for such a long time. That’s rare, he said.

“They always end up being shown for a short period of time, and then they end up in storage. I kept asking them: ‘Do you need another warehouse full of art?'” 89-year-old Edlis, who made his wealth through founding local business Apollo Plastics, said.

Museum curators are extremely appreciative of the gift, not just because of its monetary value, but because some of its works helps to round out the museum’s own collection, allowing them to provide more accurate depictions of eras and genres.

“It’s not simply names and numbers. It’s the works themselves. It’s the best of the best. These are incredibly passionate and discerning collectors who have very ably refined their collections over time. … It’s part of the tradition of the Art Institute. It’s not that we have X dozen Monets. It’s the Monets we have,” Druick explained.

The collection includes artists like Andy Warhol, Jeff Koons, Cindy Sherman, Richard Prince, Cy Twombly, and Charles Ray, among others.

“It’s going to be very exciting to see them there on the walls at the Art Institute. It’s a great feeling of joy that we have,” Neeson, 71, said.

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