Eli Broad dangles a museum and a $200 million endowment in front of Beverly Hills, Santa Monica, and a west side city to be named later*
Eli Broad is ready to build himself a west side museum to house his 2,000-piece contemporary art collection, and send it into the world with a $200 million endowment that he reckons will give it a $12 million a year budget before another penny is earned or raised. That would be the largest single hunk of cash ever bestowed on the arts in Southern California, save for the $700 million 1976 bequest ($2.65 billion in today's dollars) with which J. Paul Getty launched the Getty Trust. [*An earlier version of this post listed the amount as $2.65 million.]
The main questions facing Broad are where and when. At age 76, he wants the "when" to be ASAP, with a minimum of bureaucratic red tape. As for the "where," city officials in both Beverly Hills and Santa Monica are vying to provide it -- Beverly Hills on the southeast corner of Wilshire Boulevard and Santa Monica Boulevard, a property that Broad says the city would have to acquire then lease to him for a token amount, and Santa Monica on 2.5 acres the city already owns next to the Santa Monica Civic Auditorium.
Meanwhile, the "what" has gotten much bigger since Broad's plans to build a new headquarters and museum for his Broad Art Foundation surfaced a year ago. A conceptual design he sent last month to city planners in Beverly Hills call for nearly 50,000 square feet of exhibition space (including a 6,100 square foot outdoor area for sculpture), up from the 25,000 previously estimated.
And yes, Broad says he's also talking to a third municipality he declines to identify. It's not a matter of trying to play cities against each other to extract the sweetest deal, he says, but to give himself the best shot at breaking through red tape and getting his museum built relatively quickly.
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-- Mike Boehm
Photo: Eli Broad. Credits: Jay L. Clendenin/Los Angeles Times