Anthony d'Offay, a retired gallery owner, today made a gift which will add 725 works to British art collections by artists including Andy Warhol and Damien Hirst, reports Martin Gayford for Bloomberg. The artworks are valued at about £125 million ($250 million) and will be acquired for £28 million ($56 million), said a statement by Tate and National Galleries of Scotland. D'Offay's donation also includes pieces by Joseph Beuys, Anselm Kiefer, and Gilbert & George. “A gift of this magnitude will completely transform the opportunity to experience contemporary art in the UK,” Tate director Nicholas Serota said in the release. “Anthony d'Offay's imaginative generosity establishes a new dynamic for national collections and is without precedent anywhere in the world.” The British and Scottish governments each contributed £10 million ($20 million), with £7 million ($14 million) coming from the National Heritage Memorial Fund and £1 million ($2 million) from the Art Fund. D'Offay's collection will be known as Artist Rooms because it has been his practice to arrange the works in a series of galleries, each devoted to a single artist.
Until he closed his Mayfair gallery in 2001, d'Offay, sixty-eight, had been for more than three decades one of the most important contemporary art dealers in London. He also bought pieces by many of the artists he represented. “I believe passionately that creative young people need to have available to them the best contemporary art,” said d'Offay said in a telephone interview today. “If you are a student in Sheffield, Aberdeen, or Cardiff, you need to be able to see contemporary art. It's not always an easy thing to do to buy art in depth, so we did everything we could with all the help we could get from the artists—who were incredibly generous.”