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$187M D’Offay Art Trove Offered to Two U.K. Museums

Contemporary art dealer Anthony d’Offay is offering his personal art collection jointly to the Tate and to the National Galleries of Scotland (NGS).

LONDON—Contemporary art dealer Anthony d’Offay is offering his personal art collection jointly to the Tate and to the National Galleries of Scotland (NGS).

A major London dealer for more than 30 years, representing artists such as Jeff Koons and Gilbert and George, d’Offay retired in 2002. Experts say his collection, comprising approximately 700 works with an estimated value of £100 million ($187 million), is among the most important in Europe.

D’Offay has tended to collect artists in depth throughout their careers. Artists represented by major groups of works include Diane Arbus, Georg Baselitz, Joseph Beuys, Gilbert and George, Damien Hirst, Koons, Jannis Kounellis, Robert Mapplethorpe, Ron Mueck, Bruce Nauman, Gerhard Richter, Ed Ruscha, Bill Viola and Andy Warhol.

The works would transform the contemporary holdings of the Tate and the NGS, both of which have been seeking to strengthen their contemporary collections while struggling with limited acquisition budgets. According to a joint statement from the two institutions, released late last month, “the acquisition and partnership would dramatically improve the representation of modern and contemporary art in Edinburgh and London; and the collection would also be made available to other museums and galleries across the U.K.”

An insider source has estimated the scale of the d’Offay collection as large enough to fill 60 rooms. So, not only would the institutions have to raise money to acquire the works, but the Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art, it is expected, would have to build an extension to house its share of the collection.

Details of the pending arrangement between d’Offay and the galleries are yet to be announced, but a joint statement from the two institutions indicates that it will be offered on a part-sale, part-gift basis.

Last year d’Offay was in talks with a number of museums internationally and, in particular, with the NGS, which this past summer hosted a popular Ron Mueck show, drawing on works that belong to d’Offay. A joint deal with Tate would ensure that the works do not leave the country.

Sir Nicholas Serota, director of the Tate, said in a statement, “This is an extraordinarily generous gesture by Anthony d’Offay. The acquisition of the d’Offay collection would transform the representation of recent art in the national collections and offer the possibility of displays of contemporary art across the country.”

The museums’ joint statement affirms that “the NGS and Tate are still in discussion with Mr. d’Offay about the details of this plan, and no further details are being made public at this stage.”

CHARLOTTE HIGGINS

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