Agnes Gund has said she believes that art “is a right, not a privilege,” and this belief has been the driving force behind her philanthropic endeavors in the art world for over four decades. Serving on the board of numerous museums and foundations, Gund typically gives between $6 million and $7 million a year through her A G Foundation, which has also donated hundreds of works to the Museum of Modern Art in New York and other museums. On top of these generous contributions, she has made it possible for 30,000 students, 90 percent of whom are under-privileged, to receive over 45,000 hours of art education a year through Studio in a School, a nonprofit organization which she founded in 1977. Her personal collection of over 2,000 works spans from 1940 to the present and includes pieces by Jasper Johns, Robert Rauschenberg, Richard Serra, Ellsworth Kelly, Roy Lichtenstein, Frank Stella, John Baldessari, and many more. (A visit to her New York City apartment is tantamount to a visit to a modern art museum.) Gund’s interest in contemporary art is compounded by her interest in contemporary artists themselves, many of whom she knows personally. Ellsworth Kelly once said of Gund, “Everyone falls in love with her. You can tell her I’m in love with her.” In 2017, Gund sold a $150 million Lichtenstein painting from her collection to start the Art for Justice Fund, which will give grants to organizations working on criminal justice reform. The buyer of the Lichtenstein painting was Steven A. Cohen, who is also an ARTnews Top 200 collector.
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