MET Museum Given $1 Billion Cubist Collection

Picasso's The Red Armchair is the most emblematic of his Ripolin usage.

Picasso's The Red Armchair is the most emblematic of his Ripolin usage.  (Courtesy Art Institute of Chicago, Gift of Mr. and Mrs. Daniel Saidenberg)

People know Leonard Lauder as a mogul who owns one of the biggest cosmetics companies in the world: Estée Lauder.

What many ignore is that he also owns one of the largest Cubism collections in the world – and now he wants to give it all away.

New York City's Metropolitan Museum of Art announced Tuesday that Lauder pledged his renowned, billion-dollar collection to the museum – a gift they say will be “transformational.”

The collection of 78 works includes pieces from Pablo Picasso, Georges Braque, Juan Gris and Fernand Leger and is considered one of the most preeminent Cubism collections in the world. It's valued at more than $1 billion.

Museum Director Thomas Campbell says the gift is "truly transformational" and will fill in a critical area in the museum's collection.

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“In one fell swoop this puts the Met at the forefront of early-20th-century art,” Campbell told the New York Times. “It is an unreproducible collection, something museum directors only dream about.”

The Lauder collection is expected to be presented in an exhibition opening in the fall of 2014.

The endowment was announced on the 40th anniversary of Picasso’s death. Spain is marking the milestone with the publication of books about his influence on 20th-century art, exhibitions and other events that show his influence on the world of culture.

Picasso turned the art world upside down with his 1907 work "Les Demoiselles d'Avignon" (The Young Ladies of Avignon), blazing the trail for a new style of art.

Foreign critics considered Picasso, who was born in Malaga on Oct. 25, 1881, the greatest artist of the 20th century.

With reporting by The Associated Press and EFE.

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