Hotel Developer Richard Hedreen Is Giving His $300M Art Collection to Seattle University

His gift is one of the largest donations of art ever made to a U.S. university.

Man in suit poses in front of large abstract painting
Richard Hedreen pictured in front of Cecily Brown’s Bring Me the Sunset in a Teacup, (2017). Photo: Yosef Kalinko/Courtesy Seattle University

Richard “Dick” Hedreen, a hotel and property developer, is donating his 200-piece art collection to Seattle University. The school won’t have to worry about where to house the works, since Hedreen is also giving $25 million in seed funding to create a museum on its campus.

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“In a single magnificent gesture, Dick Hedreen has provided Seattle University with the world-class holdings for a teaching museum that will span centuries of art history and spark learning and discussion around the entire curriculum,” said Eduardo Peñalver, president of Seattle University, in a statement.

Valued at $300 million, Hedreen’s art collection marks the largest gift in the Jesuit school’s history. Spanning several centuries and containing heavy hitters across painting, sculpture and photography, it includes pieces from Titian, Willem de Kooning, Andy Warhol, Rashid Johnson and Anna Weyant.

Colorful abstract painting
The gift includes Roy Lichtenstein’s Reflections on “Painter and Model,” (1990). © Estate of Roy Lichtenstein/Courtesy Seattle University

Hedreen, 88, made his fortune from R. C. Hedreen Co., a general contracting company he founded in the early 1960s. He’s long played a part in the development of Seattle’s hotel industry, working on projects like the Renaissance Seattle Hotel in 1983 and Hyatt Regency Seattle in 2019.

A look at Richard Hedreen’s comprehensive art collection

Alongside his wife Betty, who died in 2022, Hedreen focused on amassing a comprehensive art collection ranging from the 15th century to the current day. He notably acquired the Frans Hals painting Portrait of a Man in 2011 for $11.75 million from Sotheby's but was later refunded the sum after concerns arose over the work’s authenticity.

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His unprecedented gift will honor the memory of his late wife, an alumnus of Seattle University. “Betty and I always felt that we were custodians of the artworks we acquired, holding them in trust for a larger purpose,” he said in a statement.

But the donation was also spurred on by financial incentives. As Hedreen told The Seattle Times, donating his collection instead of keeping it as part of his estate means he can avoid paying significant taxes. “That seems to me to be too generous to the state,” he said.

Painting with orange background depicting woman in green dress
Amy Sherald’s The Make-Believer (Monet’s Garden), (2016), is in Hedreen’s collection. © Amy Sherald/Courtesy the artist and Hauser & Wirth/Photo by Joseph Hyde

Seattle University already has pieces from the Hedreens’ collection. Over the years, the couple—who also gave art to institutions like the National Gallery of Art and Seattle Art Museum—have donated works to nearly every building on the school campus, gifting pieces like Henri Matisse’s Jazz Series and sculptures by Joel Shapiro and James Rosati.

The duo also helped fund the construction of Seattle University’s Chapel of Saint Ignatius in the 1990s and co-chaired a funding campaign for its Lee Center for the Arts. “The unstinting support that Dick and Betty Hedreen gave Seattle University over so many years has now reached a peak with this truly unprecedented gift,” said Patrick Callans, chair of the school’s board of trustees, in a statement.

Hotel Developer Richard Hedreen Is Giving His $300M Art Collection to Seattle University