UC Irvine will be the new home of a California art collection said to be worth tens of millions of dollars — a gift from a Newport Beach developer who squirreled away artwork that few have seen.
Gerald Buck, who died in 2013, bequeathed more than 3,200 original works to the university, which plans to exhibit the art, along with other pieces, in a new museum to be built on campus, the Orange County Register reported Wednesday. The collection, art experts say, will make UCI a destination for art lovers.
During his lifetime, Buck displayed some of his artwork in his home, but most was split between a Newport Beach warehouse and a gallery he created in what once was a post office in Laguna Beach, said Malcolm Warner, executive director of the Laguna Art Museum, according to the Register. The gallery had no windows or markings on the outside and was closed to the public.
The donated collection includes works by Peter Alexander, Ben Messick, Maurice Braun, Lorser Feitelson, Richard Diebenkorn, Sam Francis, and Roger Kuntz.
“This gift instantly puts UCI on the map as the premier collection and study center at the heart of California art,” Stephen Barker, dean of UCI’s Claire Trevor School of the Arts and executive director of the future UCI Museum and Institute for California Art, said in remarks reported by The Register.