Financial Times asks Dear Peter: is New York's loss Cleveland's gain?

Submitted by Norm Roulet on Sat, 01/22/2005 - 03:31.

The 01/21/05 Financial Times has picked a decidedly hopeful NEO spin on the recent resignation of Peter Lewis from the board of the Guggenheim Museum, asking if this development marks opportunity for Cleveland - like $77 Million worth. It seems possible only if Cleveland starts acting in concert to demonstrate the innovative, sophisicated thinking Peter clearly expects around him. So far, we haven't impressed him, and it is clearly time to change our approaches and collaborate to show Peter NEO is worthy of his further support - plenty of other regions will try to do so and Peter is far from locked behind any of our gates - so let's think open, openly.

Observer: New York's loss is Cleveland's gain?
Financial Times: Published: January 21 2005

Peter
Lewis, the philanthropist and art collector, has always been something
of an iconoclast. So some of his friends and colleagues were not
surprised by his decision to leave the board of the Guggenheim Museum
abruptly and stop handing over cheques to the New York institution.

A billionaire, Lewis made his money selling auto insurance in
Cleveland, Ohio, having inherited a small company called Progressive
Mutual from his father. Over the years, he transformed Progressive from
a sleepy company into the third-biggest insurer in the US.

But
the insurance business never really excited the interest of the
Princeton graduate. Art and liberal causes were more to his liking.
Over the years, he has lavished money on a selection of alternative
projects, ranging from the legalisation of marijuana to funding artists
in Africa and Latin America.

Inspired by David Rockefeller, who
introduced an art collection at Chase Manhattan Bank, Lewis started his
own at Progressive to inspire his staff to think "outside the box".
Until recently, Toby Lewis, his ex-wife, was the chief curator of the
exhibition, which boasts some 6,000 modern pieces by artists such as
Thomas Struth and Kerry James Marshall.

Could the Guggenheim's
loss be Progressive's gain? What a windfall it could be for the
up-and-coming art collection. Lewis, the Guggenheim's biggest
benefactor, reportedly donated $77m to the museum.