Dick Wolf, ‘Law & Order’ Creator, Gives 200 Artworks to the Met Museum

Dick Wolf, the “Law & Order” creator, has made a promised gift of more than 200 works — paintings, sculptures and drawings among them — for the Metropolitan Museum of Art’s collections of Renaissance and Baroque art. He is also donating a substantial sum of money, the Met announced on Wednesday, adding that it would endow two galleries with his name.

Wolf has been a discreet collector in the art world, focusing his attention on older works at a time when the most well-known collectors invest in modern and contemporary art. Some of his promised gifts to the museum were also recent purchases, including a 15th-century Botticelli painting that sold for $4.6 million in 2012 and a 16th-century Orazio Gentileschi painting that sold for $4.4 million in 2022. The Gentileschi is already on view in the newly reopened European paintings galleries; Wolf is also donating a piece by the artist’s daughter, Artemisia, which sold for $2.1 million that same year.

Dick Wolf said he used to visit the Met as a child on his way home from school. Credit…Chris Haston/NBC, via Getty Images

Max Hollein, the Met’s director and chief executive, said that he and the museum’s curators cultivated a relationship with the television producer over the last three years; however, he stayed away from giving advice on the market.

“I never wanted to be too presumptuous,” Hollein said in an interview. “But I think he was already thinking about the Met.”

The collection also includes a $2.8 million painting by van Gogh sold in 2022, “Beach at Scheveningen in Calm Weather,” one of his earliest oil landscapes. The painting was made in 1882, at the beach outside of the fishing village of Scheveningen, but the artist later abandoned the picture inside of a crate of some 40 works. His family stored the crate with a carpenter, who later sold the contents for the equivalent of 50 cents to a junk dealer named Johannes Couvreur.

Orazio Gentileschi, “Madonna and Child,” circa 1620.Credit…via The Metropolitan Museum of Art

A museum spokeswoman declined to provide a specific number for the endowment, which will ensure Wolf’s name is on two galleries in the department of European sculpture and decorative arts, but said it was in the tens of millions of dollars.

Wolf declined an interview but said in a statement that his appreciation for art started when he was a child visiting the Met on his way home from school. “It was a simpler time, there was no admission, you could walk in off the street,” he said. “I’m sure most collectors would agree that seeing your art displayed in the world’s greatest museum is an honor.”

Hollein characterized Wolf’s donation as one of the most meaningful gifts to the museum in recent memory.

“The collection reflects Dick Wolf’s excellent connoisseurship and enduring dedication to the diverse artistic media of the periods,” he said. “Furthermore, the substantial financial contribution will provide critical support for the Met’s collection displays and scholarly pursuits.”

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