‘Law & Order’ Creator Dick Wolf Donates 200 Artworks to the Met

The collection of Baroque and Renaissance pieces includes Vincent van Gogh’s first painting of the outdoors

Van Gogh painting
Vincent van Gogh's Beach at Scheveningen in Calm Weather (1882) Metropolitan Museum of Art

Dick Wolf, creator of the “Law & Order” franchise, is donating over 200 paintings, sculptures, drawings and more to New York’s Metropolitan Museum of Art, the museum announced on Wednesday.

Among the works are Vincent van Gogh’s Beach at Scheveningen in Calm Weather (1882) and Orazio Gentileschi’s Madonna and Child (circa 1620), the latter of which is already on display at the museum.

In addition to his donations to the museum’s Baroque and Renaissance art collections, Wolf is also endowing two galleries that will bear his name at the famed institution. A spokesperson tells the New York Times’ Zachary Small that the sum is in the tens of millions of dollars but declined to give an exact amount.

Max Hollein, the Met’s director and chief executive, tells the Times that he and the museum’s curators have developed a relationship with Wolf in recent years. Not wanting to be “too presumptuous,” he didn’t give Wolf advice on the market. Even so, Hollein admits, “I think he was already thinking about the Met.”

Wolf purchased Beach at Scheveningen in Calm Weather in 2022 for $2.8 million. The work is known for being the “first known painting by Vincent van Gogh to depict the outdoors,” writes Hyperallergic’s Rhea Nayyar.

As the story goes, van Gogh left the painting with his family in Nuenen, a town in the Netherlands, when he moved away. When the family relocated, they stored the artwork in a crate, which they left with a local carpenter. In 1902, about a decade after the artist’s death, the carpenter sold the work to a junk dealer for the equivalent of $0.50. It was purchased by an art dealer soon after.

Madonna and child
Sandro Botticelli's Madonna and Child with the Young Baptist, Saint Francis receiving the Stigmata in the Distance (circa 1480s) Metropolitan Museum of Art

Other renowned artists represented in Wolf’s gift include BronzinoBotticelli, Orazio Gentileschi and his daughter Artemisia Gentileschi. Works by later artists, including Giovanni Battista and Giovanni Domenico Tiepolo, round out the donation, which Hollein describes as a “dazzling range” of European art.

Wolf has been a “discreet collector in the art world,” according to the Times, in part because of his focus on older works rather than modern and contemporary pieces. The Observer’s Alexandra Tremayne-Pengelly reports that Wolf serves as chair of the Bellosguardo Foundation, a private arts foundation in California.

“From the time I was eight years old, I would stop at the Met on my way home from school, two to three times a month, and wander the galleries,” says Wolf in a statement from the museum. “I’m sure most collectors would agree that seeing your art displayed in the world’s greatest museum is an honor. This is my holiday gift to the museum, the people of New York and the city where I first encountered the power and beauty of great art.”  

Editor’s note, December 26, 2023: This story has been updated to clarify that Wolf is the current chair of the Bellosguardo Foundation.

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