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Saatchi’s gift to UK: 200 artworks and a gallery

- Associated Press - Thursday, July 1, 2010

LONDON (AP) — British art collector Charles Saatchi announced Thursday that he is donating his London gallery, including more than 200 works worth more than 25 million pounds ($37 million), to the nation as a new modern art museum.

The gallery said the works by artists including Tracy Emin and Grayson Perry will be given to the government and the 70,000 square foot (6,500 square meter) Saatchi Gallery renamed the Museum of Contemporary Art, London.

Former advertising tycoon Saatchi was the main patron of the Young British Artists movement of the 1990s, which made household names — and millionaires — of artists such as Emin and Damien Hirst.

His new gallery opened in 2008 in London's affluent Chelsea neighborhood and has mounted shows by emerging artists from India, China and the Middle East.

Saatchi's announcement is a boost to an arts community worried about looming cuts to government funding. Britain's Conservative-Liberal Democrat coalition government has said ministries will have to slash budgets by up to 25 percent to eliminate the country's record deficit.

The works being donated include Emin's "My Bed" — the artist's famous recreation of her boudoir, complete with empty bottles and cigarette butts — and Richard Wilson's "20:50," an eye-dazzling room filled with engine oil. There are also works from Saatchi's recent Indian, Chinese and Middle Eastern shows.

Rebecca Wilson, associate director of the Saatchi Gallery, said that as well as the 200-strong core collection, the gift includes other works that can be sold to buy new acquisitions, to keep the collection changing and current.

She said Saatchi "wants to give London and the country something it wouldn't have otherwise, which is a very agile collection that can respond quickly to developments in contemporary art from all over the world."

Wilson said the gallery's staff and management team would stay in place.

The owner of the building that houses the gallery on London's King's Road, Cadogan Estate, said it hoped the new museum would remain in the same location "for the foreseeable future."


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