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Albright-Knox Gallery Receives $42.5 M. Gift, Will Change Name

The museum.COURTESY ALBRIGHT-KNOX ART GALLERY

The museum.

COURTESY ALBRIGHT-KNOX ART GALLERY

Big news from upstate New York! The Albright-Knox Gallery in Buffalo announced today that investor and art collector Jeffrey Gundlach has donated $42.5 million to the museum. To recognize the gift, the Albright-Knox will be rechristened as the Buffalo Albright-Knox-Gundlach Art Museum.

The money from Gundlach, whom the museum describes as a “financial visionary” in its news release, will go toward AK360, a capital campaign and expansion project that is being headed up by architect Shohei Shigematsu, of Rem Koolhaas’s firm, OMA, who was also responsible for the the design of the “Manus x Machina” show at the Metropolitan Museum of Art earlier this year and Taryn Simon’s ongoing performance at the Park Avenue Armory in New York.

The funding takes the form of a challenge grant, and the museum said it has “galvanized the entire Buffalo community to rally in support of the project, with more than $40.5 million contributed from the private sector, including individuals, foundations and corporations, as well as expected government support of an estimated $20 million, including $15 million from the State of New York.”

This is not the first time that the museum has added a name to its title in honor of a donation. The museum grew out of the Buffalo Fine Arts Academy, which was founded in 1862, with the Albright Art Gallery being officially dedicated in 1905, named for John J. Albright, who funded the construction of the original exhibition building. The Knox name came was added in 1962, when Seymour H. Knox, Jr. helped funded a Gordon Bunshaft–designed expansion.

Whether Gundlach and the museum made a good deal for the naming addition is likely to be hotly debated, but the somewhat unusual structure of the arrangement—adding a name law-firm-style to an existing one—combined with the relative rarity of naming deals means that there are a limited number of examples to provide comparison. In 2011 the real-estate developer and collector Jorge Pérez got naming rights for the Miami Art Museum for $35 million in cash and art, a price that some derided as too modest, and earlier this year David Geffen gave $100 million to the Museum of Modern Art in New York and will have a wing named for him.

Gundlach, who runs DoubleLine capital and whose net worth is said to be about $1.66 billion, according to Forbes, said in a statement, “I learned about art by going to the Albright-Knox Art Gallery with my family. It was the place that first opened my eyes and mind to the endless possibilities of art and showed me that Buffalo didn’t just have the potential for greatness, but actually had a museum that was world-class.”

The investor is known for being rather outspoken on issues of finance and politics. Back in June, while noted that he was not backing any candidate, he predicted that Donald Trump would win the presidency because “[p]eople aren’t getting along, they’re not happy because of technology taking jobs, and sort of this long, slow grind of a new economy.” In July, he advised investors to dump traditional investments and buy gold. He said, “The artist Christopher Wool has a word painting, ‘Sell the house, sell the car, sell the kids.’ That’s exactly how I feel—sell everything. Nothing here looks good.”

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