D’Offay’s gift to the nation goes down in history

February 28, 2008

Anthony D’Offay has made one of the biggest philanthropic gestures in British history. The 68-year-old retired gallery owner, who until the closure of his Mayfair premises in 2001 was a one of the most prominent contemporary art dealers in London, has given over his impressive collection of work to the British national collection for effectively cost price.
The list of artists included in d’Offay’s collection of 725 pieces reads like a who’s who of contemporary art, with names like Joseph Beuys, Gilbert & George, Jeff Koons (7 pieces), Ed Ruscha, Gerhard Richter, Anselm Kiefer, Damian Hirst (including his 1995 sheep in formaldehyde, Alone in All the Flock), Diane Arbus and Robert Mapplethorpe. Perhaps the most substantial component of this gift is no less than 232 Andy Warhol pieces.
What this amounts to is a donation that could in theory command a floor and half of Tate Modern on its own. The body of works will be entitled ‘Artist Rooms,’ which maintains d’Offay’s project of curating series of solo shows.

The cost of these works to the collection is a fraction of their value – d’Offay will receive £26.5m and the administration costs for acquisition will be a further £1.5m (£28m in total), and this for a collection that would now be conservatively priced at around £125m. The costs will be met by a few different bodies: the British and Scottish governments will each pay £10m, while the National Heritage Memorial Fund will contribute £7m and the Art Fund £1m.

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