The Getty Trust in Los Angeles has appointed Ronald Lauder, the youngest son of the cosmetics magnate Estée Lauder, as a trustee. Lauder, who has served as the chairman of the Clinique Laboratories conglomerate since 1994, is closely associated with the Museum of Modern Art in New York (the businessman is currently MoMA’s honorary chairman).
Lauder is an active collector, and has focused on numerous fields including medieval art, arms and armour, Old Master paintings, French Impressionist drawings and modern and contemporary art. In 2013, he told the Financial Times that he categorises art in three ways: “There is ‘Oh’, ‘Oh My’, ‘Oh My God’ – I always get the ‘Oh My Gods’.”
In 2001, he founded the Neue Galerie, the museum on Fifth Avenue in New York which houses his collection of early 20th-century German and Austrian art and design. Lauder’s holdings of art and furniture by the Wiener Werkstätte, the influential Austrian design collective founded in 1903, are believed to be the largest outside Vienna.
He bought Klimt’s 1907 Portrait of Adele Bloch-Bauer I in June 2006, reportedly for $135m, at the time the highest sum ever paid for a painting (the price has never been confirmed). Forbes estimates his net worth at $3.2bn. Through his Commission for Art Recovery, established in 1997, Lauder has repeatedly stated that Nazi-looted art should be returned to its rightful owners.
The Getty Trust, described on its website as the world’s largest philanthropic organisation dedicated to the visual arts, includes the J. Paul Getty Museum, the Getty Research Institute, the Getty Conservation Institute and the Getty Foundation. Lauder’s “lifelong involvement with the arts, combined with his business and financial acumen, will make him a tremendously valuable member of our leadership”, says James Cuno, the president and chief executive of the trust.