UK's Saatchi to give art gallery and 200 works to nation

Thu Jul 1, 2010 12:38pm EDT
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LONDON (Reuters) - British art collector Charles Saatchi, who championed the likes of Damien Hirst and Tracey Emin, will donate his central London gallery and more than 200 works valued at $37 million to the nation, he announced on Thursday.

The Saatchi Gallery, located in Chelsea, will be renamed MOCA London (Museum of Contemporary Art, London) when Saatchi retires at an undisclosed future date.

The permanent collection Saatchi is gifting includes Richard Wilson's "Oil Room" installation, Emin's signature "My Bed" and the Chapman Brothers' "Tragic Anatomies" comprising mutated mannequins frolicking in a garden setting.

A spokeswoman said the exact timing of the gift would depend on the outcome of negotiations with different UK government departments over who would run the gallery and own the works.

It was not known exactly when the reclusive Saatchi, one of the most powerful figures in the art world, would step down.

Saatchi envisions the new museum as a contemporary art space, displaying "a living and evolving collection of work, rather than an archive of art history.

"Alongside the permanent collection, the gift will therefore include many works which the management of the museum may trade, using the revenues to acquire new works."

Saatchi will continue to own many hundreds of works privately, which will be passed to his family on his death, the statement said.

(Reporting by Mike Collett-White, editing by Paul Casciato)