The Louvre made the first steps toward truly making art held in museums a public trust by raising more than $1 million from individual donors to finance the acquisition of Lucas Cranach the Elder’s Three Graces which was being sold by a private collector to the museum for $5.2m. The work had not been seen in public and an appeal to donors raised the money to get over the top of the purchase price, according to the New York Times:
The museum had about $4 million from its budget and corporate donors, but it lacked the rest. Louvre officials made an appeal in a Web campaign beginning Nov. 13. They beat their deadline of Jan. 31 as more than 5,000 donors responded, mostly from France, but also from Belgium, Spain and the United States.
“We didn’t think this could happen so rapidly,” said Henri Loyrette, the Louvre’s director.
Contributors, through a Web site, made donations from a single euro to 40,000 euros ($52,700), with the average about 150 euros ($195). A number of French companies and foundations also gave. Many donors wrote notes to the Louvre, Mr. Loyrette said, expressing appreciation and offering money to honor loved ones.
5,000 Donors Help Louvre Buy a Painting (New York Times)