Thursday March 17, 2016
Tags for: George Gund III Bequeaths Significant Collection of Japanese Art to Cleveland Museum of Art and Asian Art Museum
  • Press Release

George Gund III Bequeaths Significant Collection of Japanese Art to Cleveland Museum of Art and Asian Art Museum

exterior of the CMA building

Late Philanthropist George Gund III Bequests Significant Collection of Japanese Art to Cleveland Museum of Art and Asian Art Museum of San Francisco

Cleveland, San Francisco, Mar 16, 2016 – More than 200 artworks, predominately Japanese ink paintings and calligraphy, have joined the collections of the Cleveland Museum of Art and the Asian Art Museum of San Francisco. These works, which include a number of rare and important masterpieces, constitute a bequest of the collection of George Gund III (1937–2013), sports entrepreneur, supporter of world cinema and connoisseur of East Asian art. 

The Cleveland Museum of Art has received the earlier works from Gund’s collection, including 64 Japanese ink paintings, many from the Muromachi period (1336-1573), and six Korean paintings, in addition to calligraphy and stoneware jars. The Asian Art Museum will acquire 140 examples of Japanese ink painting and calligraphy dated between 1600 and 1900, including masterpieces by the most notable calligraphers and painters of the Edo period (1615-1868), of which a substantial number are by Zen monks.

Cleveland Museum of Art Director William Griswold commented: “Mr. Gund’s bequest marks a new chapter in the Gund family’s long history of generosity to the museum and of engagement with the Cleveland community. An exhibition presenting new research on highlights from the collection will take place in our galleries next year.” The announcement of the bequest comes at the start of the Cleveland museum’s 2016 centennial celebration.

“Mr. Gund had an excellent eye for works of great quality and, in some cases, good humor,” said Jay Xu, director of the Asian Art Museum. “We’re thrilled at this generous gift, which enables his collection to serve as a valuable public resource for generations to come.” The works join the museum’s collection coinciding with its 50th anniversary in 2016. 

Works from Gund’s collection were previously featured in exhibitions at both museums, leading to strong relationships with the institutions. Ink Paintings and Ash-Glazed Ceramics: Medieval Calligraphy, Painting, and Ceramic Art from Japan and Korea, an exhibition drawn exclusively from the holdings of the Gund Collection was presented at the Cleveland Museum of Art in 2000. The following year, 20 works from the Gund Collection were featured in Zen Painting and Calligraphy 17th-20th Century, an exhibition at the Asian Art Museum of San Francisco.

About George Gund III

George Gund III was born in Cleveland in 1937 and spent his youth in northeast Ohio. At age 18, Gund joined the Marine Corps, which brought him to the city of San Francisco, and also to Japan, where his interest in Asian art was awakened. 

A businessman and sports entrepreneur, during his lifetime Gund owned the Cleveland Cavaliers basketball team, as well as several hockey teams, including the Minnesota North Stars and the San Jose Sharks. 

Gund was an ardent supporter of world cinema. He was the longtime chairman of the San Francisco Film Society, and he produced films as president of Caipirinha Productions. Along with his wife, filmmaker Iara Lee, Gund founded the Iara Lee and George Gund III Foundation, and he was a member of the boards of many arts and philanthropic organizations.

George Gund III died on January 15, 2013, at the age of 75.

About the Cleveland Museum of Art

The Cleveland Museum of Art is renowned for the quality and breadth of its collection, which includes almost 45,000 objects and spans 6,000 years of achievement in the arts. The museum is a significant international forum for exhibitions, scholarship, performing arts and art education and recently completed an ambitious, multi-phase renovation and expansion project across its campus. One of the top comprehensive art museums in the nation and free of charge to all, the Cleveland Museum of Art is located in the dynamic University Circle neighborhood.

The Cleveland Museum of Art is supported by a broad range of individuals, foundations and businesses in Cleveland and Northeast Ohio. The museum is generously funded by Cuyahoga County residents through Cuyahoga Arts and Culture. Additional support comes from the Ohio Arts Council, which helps fund the museum with state tax dollars to encourage economic growth, educational excellence and cultural enrichment for all Ohioans. For two consecutive years, the museum has been awarded a top four-star rating by Charity Navigator, the nation’s most-utilized independent evaluator of charities and nonprofits. For more information about the museum, its holdings, programs and events, call 888-CMA-0033 or visit

About the Asian Art Museum of San Francisco

The Asian Art Museum–Chong-Moon Lee Center for Asian Art and Culture is one of San Francisco's premier arts institutions and home to a world-renowned collection of more than 18,000 Asian art treasures spanning 6,000 years of history. Through rich art experiences, centered on historic and contemporary artworks, the Asian Art Museum unlocks the past for visitors, bringing it to life while serving as a catalyst for new art, new creativity and new thinking. For more information, call 415-581-3500 or visit

Contact the Museum's Media Relations Team:
(216) 707-2261