Perenchio and Stein: Historic Collections


Collecting art is no longer a hobby that is exclusive to the upper range of the income scale. The burgeoning landscape of art dealers and galleries, artists and fairs beckons to many, which is why it’s interesting to take a moment and consider the passions, practices, and power of two of the art world’s most important collectors.

Jerry Perenchio and Howard Stein were captains of industry  — Perenchio through Univision in Los Angeles, and Stein via Dreyfus Corp. in New York —  whose lifelong love for collecting art has come to the public’s eye today, on the eve of their respective decisions to bequeath their holdings. Perenchio, at 83, was the focus of a star-studded media event at LACMA and Stein, who died in 2011, the focus of an important Sotheby’s auction preview in Beverly Hills.

Jerry Perenchio and LACMA


“The Artist’s Garden at Vetheuil”, 1881 Claude Monet

The first is A. Jerrold Perenchio, who announced that he will give 47 paintings and sculptures from his distinguished collection to LACMA. The agreement between the philanthropist and museum is that the art is to be displayed in the proposed new Peter Zumthor building, and not co-incidentally, yesterday the city unanimously voted to contribute 125 million to the building project. The promised gift will dramatically transform the museum’s collection of nineteenth and twentieth-century European art, and guarantees that LACMA’s project will move forward. Best of all, he gave his collection to LACMA because he loves the Los Angeles and if all goes to plan, Angelenos will benefit from his gift for decades to come.

Here’s the LATimes with further details on Perenchio’s gift, which has rarely been seen in public. Here are a few of the gems:

  • The first painting by Edouard Manet to enter LACMA’s collection, the portrait of M. Gauthier-Lathuille fils (1879)
  • Au Café Concert: La Chanson du Chien by Edgar Degas (1875)
  • Three paintings by Camille Pissarro, among them the early Impressionist Le Déversoir de Pontoise (c. 1868)
  • A Post-Impressionist standout by Pierre Bonnard, Après le repas (1925)
  • Pablo Picasso’s early drawing Tête (Head of Fernande) (1909)
  • Two exceptional paintings by Fernand Léger
  • Two works by René Magritte, including Les Liaisons dangereuses (1935)


“Les Liaisons Dangereuses” (Dangerous Liaisons), 1935, Réné Magritte

Howard Stein and The Joy of Giving Something Foundation (thanks to Sotheby’s)

Howard Stein, who was a former CEO of Dreyfus Corp, was considered at both the “fathers of the mutual fund business” and one of “the world’s greatest photography collectors.”  Stein’s extensive photography collection, which is being sold by Sotheby’s next month, is notable for the pristine and rare quality of each of his prints. The absolute best prints from his collection are on a road trip, traveling from New York, to San Francisco, Los Angeles, and now onto Paris. I stopped by to see the prints on their last morning in LA and was impressed with the range of the collection and the single elegance of each print. Each photo more luminous than the next, and considering each print is expected to sell for prices upwards of $50,000, this was a special opportunity to see prints that will most likely wind up back in private collections.


Stein died in 2011, and it was determined that 175 photographs from his extensive collection would go to auction, and the proceeds to benefit his personal charity, the Joy of Giving Something Foundation. Sotheby’s pre-sale estimate of $13/20 million is the highest ever for a Photographs auction, so the impact on the relatively small foundation is enormous — which is interesting because the scope of the charity is quite narrow.  According to Christopher Mahoney, the head of Sotheby’s photo department, Stein was a longtime patron of photography students and artists. The Foundation gives scholarships to students in the visual arts and works with schools to expand “high-quality visual arts education” and operates out of New York City. It also operates a virtual museum, The Forward Thinking Museum, where you can see over 10,000 images that span the history of the art form. How the Foundation will use the proceeds remains to be seen, but is potentially very exciting for lovers of photographic arts.

Stein’s gift has the potential to transform the lives of many students of photography, both casual and earnest. It’s not yet clear how far-reaching the work of this Foundation can be, but certainly his focus on supporting more artists in the medium is unique. The show includes many stunning images, but my favorite will always be anything by August Sander.

9275 August Saunder.  Bricklayer

August Sander, 1927, The Bricklayer

I saw a Paul Strand image that I’d not seen before, of an Italian family all together, at home. Spectacular!

Paul Strand

Paul Strand, 1953, The Family, Luzzara, Italy

The auction, Highlights from 175 Masterworks to Celebrate 175 Years of Photography, begins on December 11, 2015