Buffalo's Albright-Knox Art Gallery got $67.2 (50.51 EUR) in an auction of antiquities, and hopes to use the money to position itself among America's best-known modern and contemporary art collections.
"The sale brought us back to the forefront," Albright-Knox Art Gallery Executive Director Louis Grachos told The Buffalo News.
The endowment for buying art grew from $23 million (17.3 million EUR) to $90 million (67.6 million EUR) through the sale of 207 pieces, highlighted by $25.5 million (19.2 million EUR) received from a private European collector for the classical bronze sculpture "Artemis and the Stag."
Grachos said the Buffalo museum is now well-positioned to pursue works by "key artists of our time."
Among the museum's well-funded rivals in the market are New York City's Museum of Modern Art, the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art and the Walker Art Center in Minneapolis.
Albright-Knox officials initially said the auctions, handled by Sotheby's, would bring in about $15 million (11.3 million EUR), but that number was surpassed well before Friday's closing session. On the last day of the auction series, $3.7 million (2.8 million EUR) was paid for mainly European art, including an 800-year-old enamel Eucharistic dove from France that sold for $1.7 million (1.3 million EUR), tripling one estimate.
Museum members opposed to the sale organized under the name Buffalo Art Keepers and tried unsuccessfully to block the auction in court.
Pulitzer Prize-winning poet Carl Dennis, one of the opponents, told the News after the sale that the gallery "betrayed the children of the future who will never be able to see a classical sculpture like Artemis and the Stag and the way it influenced sculpture of the 19th and 20th centuries. Its just disgusting."