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Editorial: Gundlach's generosity, round 2

Jeffrey Gundlach, the incredibly generous benefactor of the Albright-Knox Art Gallery, has upped his own ante by pledging an additional $10 million on top of his historic gift of $42.5 million toward the gallery’s expansion.

The Buffalo-born billionaire and philanthropist continues to focus his attention on his hometown and the tremendous undertaking by the gallery.

And the Los Angeles-based investor has bought a house near the gallery, considerably shortening trips to the place he has loved since a boy.

The gallery’s expansion project has had its share of critics, specifically those who objected to alterations of the landmark 1962 addition, an austere structure by Gordon Bunshaft. Letters to Everybody’s Column poured in over the plans, with most writers upset over what they perceived as unnecessary harm to the building.

Plans for the expansion continue to evolve and Gundlach, who threw his full weight of support toward the project from the beginning, is remaining firm.

Gundlach’s original $42.5 million gift ranks as the largest single donation to a Western New York cultural institution.
He said from the start that he would be willing to give more, and this latest gift represents a promise kept and a challenge made to others. The expansion has raised about $125 million of its $155 million goal. As the recent article by News arts critic Colin Dabkowski noted, Gundlach structured his donation so that he will match all the money raised by the gallery next year, up to $10 million.

Gundlach left for Los Angeles in 1983, but his heart has clearly remained here. His mother, Carol Gundlach, still lives in Amherst in the same house where he grew up. It was a modest boyhood, and trips to the museum made an impact. In another article by Dabkowski, Gundlach said, “I will acknowledge that, a little bit, I’m doing this for my mom. She’s always loved the Albright-Knox.”

The son shares that love, and shows it. Not just in the latest important donation that will move the project along, but in designing it to encourage Western New Yorkers to donate to one of the region’s cultural marvels.

His devotion is providing another crucial boost to Buffalo’s renaissance.

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