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The Gift of Art

It's hard to part with valuable art you love. But the philanthropic benefits of a sale can be worth it, especially if the cause is close to your heart.

This is how Audrey Irmas felt.

A noted philanthropist and one of the most prominent art collectors in the United States, Audrey (and her late husband, Sydney) has been a generous donor to a variety of Jewish causes, major art museums, educational institutions, and health and human services efforts.

A longtime congregant of the Wilshire Boulevard Temple in Los Angeles, Audrey learned of the temple’s dynamic vision for a new events center next door to its historic synagogue. The proposed building was designed by noted Dutch architect Rem Koolhaas.

Audrey loved the plans and was inspired by the vibrant community gathering place they promised. So she came to Loeb & Loeb for help in making this vision a reality with a gift of art.

Audrey decided to part with one of her treasured pieces, Cy Twombly’s “Untitled, 1968 (New York City)” – a magnificent and nearly eight-foot-wide painting from the artist’s “blackboard” series.

A team of Loeb & Loeb’s nationally recognized estate planning, charitable giving and fine arts practitioners came together to orchestrate the transaction. We structured a gift and sale of the work to help create the grand public space and architectural masterpiece the temple envisioned.

The painting was first donated to Audrey’s private foundation, the Audrey Irmas Foundation for Social Justice. The foundation pledged a $30 million gift to the temple.

Loeb & Loeb’s team then handled all arrangements with Sotheby’s for the auction, including negotiating extraordinary financial terms, premier advertising, catalog placement and marketing for the Twombly canvas. It ultimately fetched an artist auction record of $70.5 million.

After fulfilling Audrey’s $30 million pledge to the Wilshire Boulevard Temple, the entire balance of the proceeds of the sale will be used toward projects sponsored by the Audrey Irmas Foundation for Social Justice. The foundation has funded a school and an orphanage in Africa, among many other educational, health care and charitable endeavors.

At Loeb & Loeb, we worked with Audrey Irmas to creatively structure this complex transaction in the most tax-efficient manner possible, ensuring she could do the most good with this wonderful work of art. We’re proud to have played a part in this generous gift.