The late philanthropist and entertainment mogul A. Jerrold Perenchio — who was a generous donor to Los Angeles County Museum of Art — lived in a sprawling, 1930s French-style Bel Air estate called Chartwell, which was filled with invaluable masterwork paintings, sculptures and drawings from the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Henry Moore’s sculpture, “Reclining Figure” (1982), lay in the property’s rose garden; Auguste Rodin’s “Eve, Grande Modèle-Version Sans Rocher à la Base Carrée,” stood in the home’s formal entryway; and decorative works, pieces of furniture by Diego Giacometti were scattered throughout the house, including in the library and his private sitting room.
The art collection brought Perenchio — who was once the chairman and CEO of Univision — great joy. “Next to my family and friends,” Perenchio told the Los Angeles Times in 2014, “they are the most important things to me.”
Throughout November, 44 of Perenchio’s household works will go up for auction at Christie’s in New York. The six different sales, over 10 days, include works by Moore, Rodin and Giacometti as well as Diego Rivera, Camille Pissarro, Edvard Munch and Pablo Picasso, among others.
“From an early age my father encouraged me to follow my passions and instincts,” John Perenchio, Jerrold’s son, said via email. “He believed that trusting his gut was a key ingredient in his success. The works presented by Christie’s were part of a collection that reflected my father’s passion for fine art and his remarkable intuition as a collector.”
In late 2014, Perenchio announced he was gifting 47 pieces of art from his personal collection — works from Claude Monet, Edgar Degas and Édouard Manet, among them — to LACMA upon his death. The gift, valued at more than $500 million, remains the museum’s largest ever. However, the gift came with a condition that LACMA follow through on erecting its $650-million, Peter Zumthor-designed new building, now a year or so away from groundbreaking. In 2016, Perenchio pledged $25 million toward the project.
When Perenchio died in May 2017, LACMA director Michael Govan called him “perhaps the most philanthropic person I’ve ever worked with in the sense that he did it all with support for the institution and with this encouragement. He combined this hard-driving success and goal orientation in philanthropy with this extreme generosity and encouragement. And that was an amazing and rare combination. I felt it all the time.”
The Christie’s auction doesn’t affect Perenchio’s gifts to LACMA. In 2014, he and Govan consulted about Perenchio’s art collection before the billionaire selected which 47 works to give the museum. The Christie’s auction items were chosen from among the remaining masterworks.
None of the Perenchio works are on view yet at LACMA as they’re a promised gift; but earlier this year, LACMA published a catalog of the Perenchio gifts, “Impressionist and Modern Art: The A Jerrold Perenchio Collection.”
In the book’s forward, Govan calls the gift to LACMA “a watershed moment.”
“Of matchless quality, they describe the birth of Western modern art as we still know it, epitomized in Paris in the late nineteenth century,” he says in the book.
The 44 works up for auction at Christie’s are together valued at more than $20 million, Christie’s said.
“The Perenchio name looms so large in California partly because of Jerrold’s legendary career, but also his extreme generosity and philanthropy, in particular to LACMA,” said Max Carter, head of the impressionist and modern art department at Christie’s New York. “We’re incredibly honored to offer this selection of works, which is particularly strong in sculpture and is highlighted by one of Henry Moore’s most iconic, late, monumental reclining works and on the 19th-century side, by Rodin’s extremely rare and almost life-sized cast of Eve.”
The works being auctioned off in November, added Christie’s international director of impressionist and modern art Sharon Kim in a statement, amount to “a vivid representation of Mr. Perenchio’s eye for creativity and quality, from Modern works of art to brilliant examples of design.”
Net proceeds from the auction will go to the Perenchio Foundation, a nonprofit charity that supports arts programming and arts institutions in Los Angeles County.
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