Major Art Auction Will Benefit Huntington
Frances Lasker Brody played a crucial role at The Huntington during her lifetime. Now a major auction of her art collection by Christie's will benefit the institution.
Frances Lasker Brody was more than a philanthropist: She was a force of nature. Her passion for the arts helped shape the cultural institutions she believed in, and through the power of her personality she inspired others to their own great acts of generosity.
Brody, who passed away in November 2009 at the age of 93, was also a major art collector. She and her husband amassed a world-class collection that includes important works by Picasso, Matisse, Giacometti, Renoir, Calder, Braque, Vuillard, and others. Estimated to be worth $150 million, the collection will be auctioned by Christie’s in May. A portion of the proceeds will be donated to The Huntington.
“Francie was one of a kind,” remembers Huntington President Steve Koblik. “She was an extraordinarily knowledgeable, strongly opinionated, and forceful presence who committed her energies passionately to The Huntington as an indefatigable supporter and advocate for the gardens and art collections.”
Brody served as a member of The Huntington’s Board of Overseers for 20 years and generously supported many campaigns and initiatives. In the late 1990s she championed the Botanical Initiative that created the Botanical Center, and the Brody Teaching Laboratory in that complex honors her contribution.
Perhaps her most enduring contribution to The Huntington was the crucial role she played in the early development of the Chinese garden. It is safe to say that the Garden of Flowing Fragrance would not exist without her. Brody introduced her friend, L.A. businessman Peter Paanakker, to The Huntington and encouraged his interest in the idea of funding a Chinese garden here. The result was Paanakker’s $10 million bequest in 1999, the lead gift that helped make the garden a reality.
Brody’s influence as a cultural leader was felt throughout Los Angeles. With her late husband, Sid, she played a pivotal role in the founding of LACMA in 1965, and, as a president of the UCLA Art Council, she was instrumental in the creation of the UCLA sculpture garden and in organizing important exhibitions of the work of Picasso and Matisse.