Buffalo-born billionaire and philanthropist Jeffrey Gundlach has pledged an additional $10 million to fund the Albright-Knox Art Gallery's expansion, and he purchased a house near the gallery that he plans to renovate.
The pledge and home purchase, first reported by WIVB-TV and confirmed by Albright-Knox director Janne Sirén, further solidified Gundlach's already historic contribution to the museum that will bear his name when it opens in 2021.
His original gift of $42.5 million already ranked as the largest single donation to a cultural institution in Western New York history.
Gundlach, in an email to The Buffalo News, said the additional pledge was designed to "help realize the courageous expansion of the project’s vision."
"The Buffalo of today is not the Buffalo of recent decades past," he said in the email. "The Buffalo of today has pride and economic momentum. The Buffalo of today can and should stand on its own two feet, even if it needs a little assistance getting there from time-to-time."
Like Gundlach's original gift, the pledge is designed to motivate others to support the gallery's expansion project, which has so far raised about $125 million of a $155 million goal. In a plan designed by Gundlach, all money the gallery raises in the next year will be matched, up to $10 million.
Sirén, reached by phone Wednesday evening, praised Gundlach's continued generosity to the museum.
"It's extraordinary and visionary and it helps us catalyze the second round, the final second round, of the capital campaign," Sirén said.
Sirén added that Gundlach's second gift will help the gallery in its effort to "engage members of the Buffalo diaspora" as well as national foundations that were not able to contribute during the fundraising campaign's first round.
"Our fundraising efforts will be national," Sirén said, with a special focus on "individuals who may have ties to Buffalo as well as collectors who may not have ties to Buffalo but are interested in the work the Albright-Knox does."
Gundlach, 58, echoed Sirén's hope that his expanded pledge would encourage other donors, both Buffalo expats and foundations, "to take part in what I believe history will judge as a truly transformative effort even when considered on the global stage."