Getty Jr. Endows British Art----Malibu Doesn’t Need It’
American oil magnate J. Paul Getty Jr. is giving $63 million to Britain’s National Gallery, transforming it into a major rival on world art markets to the Getty Museum in Malibu, Calif., founded by his father.
The spectacular gift to Britain’s leading gallery from the reclusive 52-year-old multimillionaire was announced today by the museum’s trustees. Chairman Jacob Rothschild said it was “more than we had ever dreamed of.”
Rothschild said the gift was probably the greatest individual endowment in the history of British public collections, and the largest the gallery in Trafalgar Square has received since its founding in 1824.
$25 Million to Start
Getty is creating an endowment fund worth $25 million and will increase it to $63 million “as soon as is practicable,” Rothschild said.
A benefactor of eclectic causes including striking coal miners, baby seals and orphans, Getty said in a statement from a London clinic where he is undergoing treatment:
“Why the National Gallery? Well, none of the American galleries needs any help from me, least of all the J. Paul Getty Museum.”
The buying power of the Getty Museum in California, whose trust dictates that it spend $1 million a week on art, has driven institutions such as the National Gallery out of the market in many auctions in recent years.
The National has a buying fund from the British government of just $3.45 million this year. That would not have bought even half of one Renaissance painting sold in London in April--to the Getty Museum.
Getty’s donations have often reflected divisions within the family. He has donated money to British art museums to keep them from exporting some pictures sold to the Getty Museum.
In October, 1984, he gave $516,000 to the Manchester city art gallery to prevent the sale to the Getty of a painting of the Crucifixion by the Italian Duccio.
The National Gallery contains about 2,200 oil paintings, including from such masters such as Leonardo da Vinci, Raphael, Rembrandt, Titian, Turner, Constable, Van Gogh and Cezanne.
Getty lives beside the Thames in London’s exclusive Chelsea district on an annual income of $35 million from the fortune of his father, reputedly the world’s richest man when he died in 1976. Father and son were not on speaking terms.
“The most important thing I have to do in life is to see that the income is used for the best possible purpose,” Getty said today.
He has donated to the art world before, but his more eccentric acts of generosity have gained him more publicity.
He has bought a Steinway grand for pianist John Ogden, helped orphans of a lifeboat disaster, gave $126,000 to families of striking British miners and hired helicopters to reunite five baby seals with their parents.