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Eli Broad’s Collection Keeps Expanding

Last Nov. 9, at a Sotheby’s evening auction of contemporary art, Los Angeles collector and philanthropist Eli Broad ended the year on a high note, winning David Smith’s enormous steel sculpture Cubi XXVIII, 1965, for a final price of $23.8 million (see ANL, 11/22/05).

NEW YORK—Last Nov. 9, at a Sotheby’s evening auction of contemporary art, Los Angeles collector and philanthropist Eli Broad ended the year on a high note, winning David Smith’s enormous steel sculpture Cubi XXVIII, 1965, for a final price of $23.8 million (see ANL, 11/22/05).

The major purchase capped off another active collecting year for Broad, who added five new artists and more than 20 important works in all to his personal art collection and the Broad Art Foundation in 2005 alone.

Looking to house his expanded collection, Broad is now funding the construction of a $50 million, three-story building, comprising about 70,000 square feet, at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA).

Broad donated another $10 million for an artwork acquisitions fund. Scheduled for completion in late 2007, the new space will be named the Broad Contemporary Art Museum at LACMA.

The record price Broad paid for the Smith piece may have come as a surprise to some art-world observers, but Broad had been waiting for such a work to come on the market for more than a decade, Joanne Heyler, director and chief curator of the Los Angeles-based Broad Art Foundation, told ARTnewsletter. At an auction 11 years ago, she recounts, Broad was the underbidder of a similar Smith sculpture “at a very significant level.”

Noting that he is “a very disciplined buyer, who tends to move on when something doesn’t enter the collection for whatever reason,” Heyler says that with the loss of the Smith piece, “there was a certain amount of regret in the aftermath, so this was a real opportunity to redress that loss.”

Among Broad’s other acquisitions was Cy Twombly’s Untitled (Rome), 1961, also purchased at the Sotheby’s Nov. 9 sale, for $7.9 million (see ANL, 11/22/05), bringing his holding of works by Twombly to nine.

Further won was an early Photorealism portrait by Chuck Close, John, 1971-72, for which the collector paid a record $4.8 million (estimate: $5/7 million) at Sotheby’s contemporary art auction last May (see ANL, 5/25/05).

The Broad Art Foundation, which already lists more than 100 artists, was “very active in 2005,” says Heyler, noting that five new artists’ names were added. Among them: two works by Jenny Saville (a 2004-05 child portrait, Stare, purchased from the Gagosian Gallery stand at Art Basel, and a large 1994 triptych, Strategy, bought on the secondary market); four photographic works by Thomas Struth, acquired from New York dealer Marian Goodman; Anna, 2004, a painting by John Currin; a 1999 film, Stereoscope, by William Kentridge; and Der Laden (The Store), a painting by Neo Rauch, bought from David Zwirner at London’s Frieze art fair.

Comments Heyler: “We collect in depth and make a commitment to the artist. We won’t just be buying one or two works.”

Last year Broad further added a number of works by artists already in the collection, such as three new pieces by Damien Hirst—among them a painting from the recent Gagosian Gallery show, Autopsy with Sliced Human Brain, and a 1996 spot painting, Cholorprotamide (PFS). Two works from Jeff Koons’ “Easy Fun” series were purchased, including Caterpillar Ladder and Chain Link Fence.

Broad also added to his collection of works by Amy Adler, Gregory Crewdson, Jasper Johns, Mike Kelley, Ed Ruscha, Cindy Sherman and Andy Warhol.

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