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The Hammer Collection

June 26, 1988

I feel that I must respond to "Battle for the Masterpieces," by Robert A. Jones (May 22), on the failed donation of the Armand Hammer art collection. The main issue here should be whether the Hammer Collection is open to the public. This can be virtually guaranteed in the affirmative by reviewing Hammer's long record of donations and art exhibitions.

Jones states that the collection has been valued at $250 million and that to the relatively new Los Angeles County Museum of Art "the Hammer Collection was very important." He then states that Hammer's requirements for the donation were unreasonable considering the quality of the collection. Which is it? Is the collection worth having or not? If the collection is worth having, shouldn't the requirements for donation be met? I believe that Hammer has a right to make demands when presenting such a large donation.

The article sees Hammer's requirements as unreasonable because it fails to admit that a collection of art is not just a group of artworks but also a creation of the collector, and as such, the collection should be clearly labeled and maintained as a unit. This is certainly the reason behind Hammer's demands, to which he is entitled after so much time and effort in assembling his collection.

Jones doesn't seem to realize that when one asks for a donation, it cannot be on one's own terms.

ROBERTJ. KERSHAW

La Mesa

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