London Developer Leaves $490M in Art, Cars to Britain

Turner’s 1801 masterpiece The Bridgewater Sea Piece - which Harry Hyams had loaned anonymously to the National Gallery.
Turner’s 1801 masterpiece The Bridgewater Sea Piece - which Harry Hyams had loaned anonymously to the National Gallery.

One of the biggest charitable bequests in British history has come from the estate of a property magnate who built the landmark Centre Point tower in London.

Harry Hyams, who died last year at age 87, has left £387m ($498.34m) of his £487m estate for Britain to preserve his extensive collection of fine art for the nation.

Hyams made his massive fortune developing office spaces. His art and vintage car collection has been considered one of the finest in private hands in Britain.

Some artwork will be displayed in public for the first time, including works by esteemed 18th century painter George Stubbs. Other pieces have been loaned before such as JMW Turner’s masterpiece The Bridgewater Sea Piece - which has been on view at the National Gallery - and Burne Jones's Tristram and Iseult along with Millais’s Cherry Ripe - currently at the Fitzwilliam Museum in Cambridge.

Artwork will be loaned to institutions through Hyams' Capricorn Foundation. The Hyams residence, Ramsbury Manor, will eventually open to the public. The country house was burgularized in 2006 by a gang, whose members were caught, and while many artworks were recovered, much remains missing.

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