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Wilshire Boulevard Temple Getting Fancy Rem Koolhaas Event Center Paid For By a Painting

Wilshire Boulevard Temple has had big plans laid out since spring for an abitious "event center" project next door to the historic synagogue. Office For Metropolitan Architecture, the firm of Pritzker-Prize-winning architect Rem Koolhaas, is designing "a dynamic, trapezoidal five-story building" with "one of the most stunning banquet halls in the entire city," complete with office space, dance floor, and stage, the temple has just announced. But with a $60-million pricetag, how will they pay for such a thing? By selling a single painting, that's how! Philanthropist Audrey Irmas is putting her prized Cy Twombly painting up for auction with plans to donate $30 million of the (estimated $60-million) proceeds to the OMA project, reports the New York Times.

The painting, "Untitled, 1968 (New York City)," goes up for auction in November, and Irmas has mixed feelings about letting it go. "I love that painting so much, but I've had it for 25 years and I'm always worried when other people come into the living room that they may back up into it." She'd better be worried, she bought it for $3.85 million dollars back in 1990. Since then, the painting has been ballooning in value. To put it in context, a similar but smaller Twombly painting from two years later fetched $69.6 million at auction in 2014.

There is no minimum guarantee for the the painting, so there is a long-shot chance it won't make the expected price of more than $60 million, but the temple will still get its money regardless. Rabbi Steven Z. Leder says the $30 million is a signed pledge, and Wilshire Boulevard Temple gets the money "when the Cy Twombly sells or within one year of her death, whichever occurs first — and we all hope it will be the former."

Understandably, the facility will be named the Audrey Irmas Pavilion and it is expected to open in 2019. —Jeff Wattenhofer
Sale of Twombly Work to Help Fund Expansion of Wilshire Boulevard Temple in Los Angeles [NY Times]
Historic Wilshire Temple Could be Getting a Rem-Koolhaas-Designed Event Center [Curbed LA]