Mind the Gap Museum: Gap Inc. Founder to open art museum
Art or no art, this might not exactly be the most welcome addition to San Francisco: Gap (Old Navy, Banana Republic) founder Donald Fisher is planning to build an art museum to house his personal collection in the Presidio area of Golden Gate Park. The collection is said to be worth $1 billion. Why wouldn't it be welcome? Well, Fisher and the last remnants of the anti-Capitalist, hippie enclave of San Fran haven't always been good friends. Fisher has long been a person with political clout who tends to use it:
According to data from the Federal Elections Commission, the Fishers have
contributed more than $340,000 to federal campaigns and causes, including the
re-election of President Bush, since 2003. In addition, they have donated more
than $1.2 million to state and local campaigns in the last year and a half
Charlie Marstellar, a longtime San Francisco government watchdog, said of
Fisher: "He wants to influence local government and, since he has more money
than most of us, his voice is a little louder."
"Oh yeah," he said. "That happens nearly once a week."
Still, Fisher has a long record of community involvement and philanthropy (especially as it concerns youth and education), and this gesture is certainly a significant one. Maybe--just maybe--the hippies will drop their brick-hurtling arms around the windows of the Fisher Museum.
Fisher and his wife, Doris, have a collection of more than 1,000 works of art, including pieces by Andy Warhol, Alexander Calder, Roy Lichtenstein and Gerhard
Experts believe the collection, which has until now been kept from public view, could be valued at more more than $1 billion US in today's buoyant art market.
"Don turns up everywhere," said local philanthropist Dede Wilsey. "I remember I was in Washington, in the bowels of the old Senate Office Building, and who do I see get off the elevator but Don Fisher."
Wilsey, credited for raising some $200 million to build the new M.H. de Young Memorial Museum in Golden Gate Park, received $1 million from the Fishers for a gallery in their name.
"I think he's a great philanthropist, and the art they've collected is truly superb," Wilsey said. "There are times when he may not come across as overly welcoming, but he has a really sweet side."