Michel David-Weill, whose gifts of money and art helped transform the Louvre and the Metropolitan Museum of Art, has died at 89 on June 17 in New York, according to an obituary by the Louvre quoted by the ARTnews.
David-Weill was chairman of the advisory firm Lazard and vice chairman of Danone, the food and drink company that today owns brands such as Evian and Oikos. Born in 1932 in Paris, David-Weill was born to a family of bankers. As was the case with the Rothschilds and other Jewish collectors living in France during World War II, the Nazis took the David-Weills’ art holdings, along with Lazard itself. Once the war ended, much of their art was returned.
With his wife Hélène, he appeared on the ARTnews Top 200 Collectors list each year between 1991 and 2014. The couple focused on buying French art of the 17th, 18th, and 19th centuries. A Vanity Fair profile from 1997 described that his New York apartment was filled with paintings by Jean-Baptiste-Camille Corot, Pablo Picasso, Joan Miró, and Jean-Honoré Fragonard.
The Met, where David-Weill was a trustee, was among the institutions that received some of the greatest support from him. At the Louvre, David-Weill helped fund the restoration of the museum’s galleries for 17th- and 18th-century works of art. He also gave the museum several works of art, including Fragonard’s The White Bull in the Stable (ca. 1765) and, most recently, a 1450 painting by the Master of Osservanza that depicts St. Joseph’s dream. David-Weill’s philanthropy earned him a spot in France’s Order of Arts and Letters. Read more on ARTnews.