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Billionaire gifts New York Met Cubist collection


Cosmetics billionaire Leonard Lauder has given New York's Metropolitan Museum of Art an entire, no-strings-attached collection of Cubist art that he assembled over four decades, the museum announced Tuesday.

The enormous gift, estimated by The New York Times to be worth $1 billion, includes 78 works by Picasso, Braque, Gris, and Leger, "will transform the museum," a statement said.

The Met, a world-class institution that has long suffered a hole in its early 20th century art collection, will be transformed by the completeness and quality of the sudden addition.

The museum will also establish a new research center for modern art, supported by a $22 million endowment created by donors including Lauder, it was announced.

"Leonard's gift is truly transformational for the Metropolitan Museum," Met CEO Thomas Campbell said.

"Although the Met is unique in its ability to exhibit over 5,000 years of art history, we have long lacked this critical dimension in the story of modernism. Now, Cubism will be represented with some of its greatest masterpieces," he said.

"This is an extraordinary gift to our Museum and our City."

In a statement, Lauder, 80, said his gift is for "the people who live and work in New York and those from around the world who come to visit our great arts institutions."

"I selected the Met as the way to share this collection because I feel that it's essential that Cubism -- and the art that follows it, for that matter -- be seen and studied within the collections of one of the greatest encyclopedic museums in the world."

The Lauder Collection will be unveiled late in 2014, the museum said.