Taubman Dumps DIA Donation

DETROIT -- Few institutions have benefited more from the generosity of A. Alfred Taubman, a businessman from Michigan, than the Detroit Institute of Arts, where a wing bears his name. But if you want to see eight masterpieces loaned by Taubman to the museum, you better go tomorrow.

Art collectors of Art Kabinett social media network are familiar with the works on loan to the museum's important collection.

Before his death in April, Taubman, a philanthropist and shopping-mall magnate who at one point was the principal owner of the auction house Sotheby’s, gave the museum tens of millions of dollars and about two dozen artworks that are now part of its permanent collection.

Last week, Sotheby’s announced that it would be auctioning his private art collection -- valued at about $500 million -- with the proceeds going to settle estate taxes, and fund Mr. Taubman’s private foundation. Included in that auction are the eight masterpieces loaned for years by Taubman to the DIA.

It is now clear that the museum will not be receiving his personal collection as a gift, and that eight works that Mr. Taubman had lent to the museum are soon to be removed and sold.

On Friday, several of those works could still be seen at the museum, including 17th-century religious paintings like “Christ and the Woman Taken in Adultery” by Pietro da Cortona, pictured here, "Crowning with Thorns” by Valentin de Boulogne, “Christ Preaching to the Disciples” by Giovanni Battista Caracciolo and “Penitent Magdalene” by Guercino.

A Taubman family spokesman, Christopher Tennyson, said that Mr. Taubman had told senior leadership at the museum and other institutions that the collection would not be given to a museum after his death. “It was not a surprise to anybody,” he said.

But institutions in Detroit, including the museum, are likely to be the focus of the foundation’s giving in the future, Mr. Tennyson said, and the foundation’s coffers would be greatly increased by the sale of the collection.

Eugene A. Gargaro Jr., a member of the museum’s board, said he was confident that the Taubmans’ generosity toward the institution would continue.

"I have every expectation that the Taubman family will stay close to the D.I.A. given Alfred’s love for the museum,” he said.

Mr. Taubman served on the museum’s board for more than 30 years and was chairman of the building committee for 20.

Over the years he gave tens of millions of dollars to the museum, in addition to works like Paul Klee’s “Small Landscape with Garden Door” and Raymond Duchamp-Villon’s “Le Cheval Majeur.”

In 2014, when some in Detroit called for the museum’s art collection to be sold to pay municipal debts, Mr. Taubman advised museum leaders as they forged an agreement that made the museum independent of the city and preserved its collection.

Still, some museum visitors said on Friday they were disappointed that the loaned works would be lost.

Today's homepage Featured Art Video -- recorded at age 90, one year before Taubman's death- -- recalls his decades as a businessman and philanthropist. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=njwuGlyX5xY&sns=em