Charles Saatchi gives modern art collection to Britain

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British art collector Charles Saatchi, credited with discovering Damien Hirst and Tracey Emin, will give more than 200 art works worth 25 million pounds to the nation, his publicists announced Thursday.

The works from the Saatchi Gallery -- worth 37 million dollars or 30 million euros -- will be donated to a foundation "fairly soon" although Saatchi will remain head of the museum, gallery associate director Rebecca Wilson told AFP.

"I'm thrilled. I wish more people had that kind of vision," said Emin, whose work "My Bed" will be included in the gift alongside works from Jake and Dinos Chapman and Grayson Perry. Perry described it as "fantastic news."

The art will continue to be housed in the Saatchi Gallery, a 70,000 square foot, state-of-the-art space in the upmarket Chelsea district of London. The collection moved there in 2008 from County Hall by the River Thames.

When Saatchi retires, it will be re-named the Museum of Contemporary Art London and will continue his practice of constantly selling off existing works to buy new art, although there will be a core, permanent collection.

"Saatchi's view is that it is vital for the museum always to be able to display a 'living' and evolving collection of work, rather than an archive of art history," a statement from his publicists said.

Details about how the government will manage the collection are still being ironed out, but the works will be unveiled in three exhibitions at the Saatchi Gallery from 2012.

Saatchi will still keep hundreds of private works to pass on to his family when he dies, but he may still contribute some of these items to the public collection.

© 2010 AFP

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