Art collector Agnes Gund has sold yet another multi-million dollar Roy Lichtenstein work, pledging the sale proceeds towards charitable causes.
In an interview with W Magazine, Gund revealed that the proceeds of Lichtenstein’s 1970 painting Mirror #5, which sold to an unnamed buyer in November for more than $3.1 million at Christie’s, were partially given to Groundswell Fund, a non-profit advocating for reproductive rights.
Gund, who said she was inspired by the Supreme Court overturning Roe v. Wade, donated the rest of the funds toward lobbying efforts for Michigan’s Reproductive Freedom for All ballot measure.
This isn’t the first time Gund, 84, has sold a Lichtenstein for philanthropy. After watching the documentary 13th in 2017, which explored race and mass incarceration, she decided to sell Lichtenstein’s 1962 Masterpiece.
Steve Cohen, owner of the New York Mets and founder of hedge fund Point72 Asset Management, purchased the work for $165 million through Acquavella Gallery. Gund subsequently used $100 million of the proceeds to launch Art for Justice, which funds advocates and artists reforming the criminal justice system.
In its first year, Art for Justice awarded $22 million in grants to 30 organizations, stating that it aimed to reduce the prison population in certain states by as much as 20 percent. The organization has additionally partnered with Frieze Art Fair to create the Frieze Impact Prize, given to artists who use their work to advocate for the end of mass incarceration.
Following Gund’s initial Lichtenstein sale, Laurie Tisch, a chairwoman at the Whitney Museum, was inspired to donate $500,000 to Art for Justice from the proceeds of a Max Weber painting sale. And in 2021, artist Julie Mehretu pledged the $6.5 million sale of her painting Dissident Score to the organization.
Will Gund sell more artwork?
Gund’s philanthropy was the focus of Aggie, a documentary created by her daughter Catherine which premiered at the Sundance Film Festival in 2020.
Despite the two significant Lichtenstein sales, Gund told W Magazine she’s “afraid that’s about it” in terms of selling more artwork from her collection, the majority of which has been promised to museums, with 1,000 works already given to the Museum of Modern Art.
Gund first joined the MoMA’s board in 1976, where she is currently president emerita, in addition to being chairman of MOMA PS1. She reportedly gives away two-thirds of her annual assets each year, and in 1977 she launched Studio in a School, a non-profit that focuses on introducing arts education to New York City public schools.
In 1997, Gund was given the National Medal of Arts by Bill Clinton, and in 2020 she received the Woman of Leadership of Award from Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg.