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County leaders praise Jerry Perenchio for $500-million LACMA gift

A. Jerrold Perenchio, center, is flanked by L.A. County Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas, left, LACMA trustee Lynda Resnick, LACMA Director Michael Govan and LACMA board co-chair Andrew Gordon after the official announcement Thursday of Perenchio's bequest to the Los Angeles County Museum of Art.
(Christina House / For The Times)

Bel-Air billionaire Jerry Perenchio made a rare appearance at a news conference Thursday morning, when Los Angeles County Museum of Art leaders and county officials praised the 83-year-old retired entertainment mogul for donating his art collection to the museum.

Perenchio thanked the county Board of Supervisors for its 5-0 vote Wednesday to approve initial funding of the museum’s new building, which is planned for 2023.

“They should send all of you to Washington,” Perenchio joked during his speech on the museum campus.

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Perenchio’s donation of at least 47 works by masters including Monet, Degas and Manet would take effect after his death and comes with the condition that the new LACMA building be completed in a timely manner.

“Failure is not an option,” he said.

In an interview with The Times earlier this week, Perenchio said he was putting provisions in his will regarding the donation and the completion of the new building. He said a delay of one or two years wouldn’t affect the gift.

Perenchio, who was the chairman of Univision Communications, said he was breaking his rule of not speaking with the press to encourage other prominent collectors and philanthropists to support the new LACMA building.

Designed by Swiss architect Peter Zumthor, the new building is expected to cost $600 million and will be funded by public and private money. At a meeting Wednesday, county supervisors approved initial funding that would cover 21% of the expected cost.

“A big part of the heart and soul of any city is its dedication and commitment to the arts,” Perenchio said at the news conference Thursday.

Other speakers included LACMA Director and Chief Executive Michael Govan and county supervisors Zev Yaroslavsky and Mark Ridley-Thomas.

Yaroslavsky, who will soon be concluding his term as supervisor, cited the county’s cultural accomplishments in the last 15 years, including Walt Disney Concert Hall and LACMA’s grand entrance area, which he described as the “living room” of the city.

Perenchio’s collection is valued at $500 million and focuses on 19th and 20th century Western art, with several key Impressionist works.

The donation would include the first painting by Manet to enter LACMA’s collection, an 1879 portrait titled “M. Gauthier-Lathuille fils.”

It also includes three works by Monet: an 1880 still-life titled “Asters”; an 1881 painting “Le Jardin de l’artiste à Vétheuil” that was purchased for $13.2 million at a Christie’s auction in 1996; and a water lilies painting from around 1905.

Perenchio’s gift spans the dawn of modern art and features Picasso’s early drawing “Tête (Head of Fernande)” from 1909, two Fernand Léger paintings and two works by René Magritte, including the 1935 “Les Liaisons Dangereuses.”

Most of the works in Perenchio’s collection hang in his Bel-Air mansion.

A LACMA spokeswoman said the museum did not know when a full list of Perenchio’s gifted works would be available.

Twitter: @DavidNgLAT


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