|Heinz Berggruen with Pablo Picasso's "Dora Maar aux ongles verts." (J. Demarthon/AFP/Getty Images/File 2006)|
Heinz Berggruen, at 93; was collector of Picasso and Klee
PARIS -- Heinz Berggruen, an influential collector of Picasso's artworks and longtime friend of the artist, has died in France, the Picasso Museum in Paris said Sunday. He was 93.
Mr. Berggruen died Friday at the American Hospital in Neuilly-sur-Seine, just west of Paris, said Anne Baldassari, director of the Picasso Museum. The cause of his death was not revealed.
Mr. Berggruen, whose Picasso collection was one of the world's biggest with more than 130 works, also made significant gifts of modern art to the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City and the Nationalgalerie in Berlin.
Mr. Berggruen was born in Berlin on Jan. 5, 1914. Of Jewish background, he had to leave Germany during the Third Reich, when modern art was branded degenerate by the Nazis.
He studied in Germany and France before leaving for the United States in 1936, where he became a citizen and worked as a freelance art critic for the San Francisco Chronicle, according to the Picasso Museum's biography of him.
After World War II, he settled in Paris and dedicated himself to collecting art, especially Picasso's.
"I was struck right away by his gaze," Mr. Berggruen recalled of meeting Picasso in 1949, according to the biography.
Mr. Berggruen's collection included early pieces such as a 1907 study for the "Demoiselles d'Avignon" and a portrait of Georges Braque of 1909-10. Later pieces included "Seated Nude with Lifted Arms," painted in 1972, months before Picasso's death. The Picasso Museum in Paris staged an exhibit of some of the collection last fall.
"He was a great personal friend and great support for the Picasso Museum," Baldassari said.
The Berggruen collection at the Metropolitan encompasses 90 paintings and drawings by Paul Klee illustrating the artist's entire career of varied works.
Museum Berggruen in Berlin, part of the Nationalgalerie, includes more than 100 works by Picasso from all phases of his career. Klee is represented with more than 60 pictures. In addition, there are more than 20 works by Henri Matisse and sculptures by Alberto Giacometti.
Mr. Berggruen donated those works in 1996 as a gesture of reconciliation with Germany.