Photo by: Purwo Kuncoro

The Leakey Foundation announces major gift from the Ann and Gordon Getty Foundation for the Arts

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Historic donation will help The Leakey Foundation accelerate human origins research and conservation, provide educational opportunities, and increase equity in science.

Ann and Gordon Getty, 1998. Photo by Bruce Forrester


SAN FRANCISCO, California – – The Ann and Gordon Getty Foundation for the Arts announced today that it is auctioning its art collection to benefit The Leakey Foundation and five other nonprofit organizations. This will be the most significant gift in The Leakey Foundation’s 54-year history.

The collection will be sold at Christie’s New York in a series of landmark sales beginning October 2022. Nearly 1,500 superlative works of decorative and fine arts will be offered by Christie’s from Ann and Gordon Getty’s San Francisco residence. Continuing the Gettys’ lifelong commitment to philanthropic causes, proceeds from the sales will benefit the Ann and Gordon Getty Foundation for the Arts, devoted to the support of arts and science organizations.

Designated beneficiaries will include leading California-based organizations with whom the Gettys have longstanding relationships, including the San Francisco Conservatory of Music, San Francisco Opera, San Francisco Symphony, University of San Francisco, Berkeley Geochronology Center, and The Leakey Foundation. Christie’s estimates the value of the collection at $180,000,000.

“Young Lady in a Loge Gazing to Right” by Mary Cassatt, a lot in Christie’s Ann and Gordon Getty Collection auction this October.

“We are grateful for this extraordinary gift from the Ann and Gordon Getty Foundation for the Arts,” said Sharal Camisa Smith, Executive Director of The Leakey Foundation. “This investment shows their true commitment to science, education, and the arts. With this gift, we can propel our work forward, accelerate the pace of scientific breakthroughs, expand educational opportunities, and do more to protect endangered primates and their habitats.”

“We humans are the only species with the ability to create new things, explore our common past, and imagine the future,” said Jeanne Newman, President of The Leakey Foundation. “It is especially meaningful to me that this gift of art will be used to advance science and help us better understand humanity.”

“For over 50 years, The Leakey Foundation has been at the vanguard, supporting studies that have fundamentally altered our understanding of human origins, evolution, and behavior,” said John Mitani, Professor Emeritus at the University of Michigan and co-chair of The Leakey Foundation’s Scientific Executive Committee. “It also works hard to make that knowledge widely known through educational programs and outreach. This transformative gift will ensure that the Foundation will be able to carry out its mission in new, exciting, and productive ways.”

John Fleagle, Leakey Foundation Scientific Executive Committee Co-Chair and Distinguished Professor at Stony Brook University, said, “The Leakey Foundation is the premier source of funding for new projects and young scientists in human evolution and primate behavior all over the world. This major gift will enable the foundation to further expand these important investigations.”

“Gordon Getty joined our board in 1973 and became Chairman in 1980,” Sharal Camisa Smith said. “He’s helped make The Leakey Foundation what it is today, and this gift from the Ann and Gordon Getty Foundation for the Arts ensures that our organization will continue to thrive far into the future.”


Media contact: Meredith Johnson

About The Leakey Foundation

The Leakey Foundation is a nonprofit organization established in 1968 with a mission to answer fundamental questions about humanity’s origins, evolution, and future survival. Their research funding fuels world-changing discoveries, launches young scientists’ careers, and helps protect endangered primates. They also help people learn about the wonders of the human story through innovative educational programs including their Origin Stories podcast and Lunch Break Science web series.

The Leakey Foundation currently provides 1 million dollars a year in research grants and scholarships to a global community of scientists. They prioritize funding early-career scientists, exploratory studies, scientists from regions that lack opportunities for advanced education, and grants that help launch and sustain long-term research projects.

Comments 2

2 responses to “The Leakey Foundation announces major gift from the Ann and Gordon Getty Foundation for the Arts”

  1. Wendy phillips says:

    Oh wow! I don’t know what I’m more excited about- the fabulous art that will now become available, or the funds that will come to the foundation!
    Great news all round!

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