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Art Institute of Chicago Gets a $400 Million Collection, the Largest Gift In Its History

Philanthropists Stefan Edlis and Gael Neeson have donated a major private contemporary art collection with a value estimated at $400 million to the Art Institute of Chicago, according to the Chicago Tribune’s Steve Johnson. With works by Andy Warhol and Jasper Johns, the forty-two-piece collection is the largest gift of art in the museum’s history, it says.

The gift also includes sculpture by Cy Twombly, Jeff Koons, and Charles Ray, photographs by Richard Prince, and Cindy Sherman, and paintings by Roy Lichtenstein and Gerhard Richter, all of which are “pivotal” pieces from the artists’ oeuvres, according to Laura Paulson, chairman of postwar and contemporary art at the auction house Christie’s.

“The Art Institute made us an offer that I couldn’t refuse, which is they’ll show the art for fifty years. A lot of collectors never get that chance,” said Edlis.

Edlis and Neeson had been frustrated by what typically happens with donated art, they say: “They always end up being shown for a short period of time, and then they end up in storage,” said Edlis, who added: “I kept asking them: ‘Do you need another warehouse full of art?’”