An American billionaire couple are gifting $115 million of art to the Auckland Art Gallery, the biggest philanthropic gesture of its kind in Australasia.
The 15 paintings and works on paper have been promised by Julian Robertson, who owns golf courses in New Zealand, and his wife Josie.
The art, to be known as the Julian and Josie Robertson Collection, dates from 1875-1951 and includes works by Paul Cezanne, Paul Gauguin, Pablo Picasso, Henri Matisse, Piet Mondrian, Salvador Dali, Georges Braque, Andre Derain, Fernand Leger, Pierre Bonnard and Henri Fantin-Latour.
The two oil paintings by Picasso include one of his most famous Cubist portraits of his mistress Dora Maar, Femme a la resille (1938), and a family study, Mere aux enfants a l'orange (1951), featuring his children Claude and Paloma.
Auckland Art Gallery director Chris Saines announced the Robertsons' "promised gift" last night at a function attended by Prime Minister John Key and Auckland City Mayor John Banks.
It's hard to put into words just how significant this gift is, and New Zealanders are, we're sure, hugely grateful to the Robertsons for their display of philanthropy. Julian Robertson has invested heavily in New Zealand with the magnificent Kauri Cliffs and Cape Kidnappers golf courses, both of which we one day aspire to play, and his ownership of wineries. He and his wife obviously love New Zealand dearly, and have found a way to express that in an enduring manner.
And as an aside, let's not forget that Julian Robertson was the man accused by Trevor Mallard of being the National Party's "American bagman" prior to the 2005 election, a cheap shot and an allegation that Mallard was never able to substantiate. We thank WhaleOil for the reminder. The Robertsons are proof perfect that foreign investment can be hugely valuable to this country.