In news that should delight art fans around the country, Australian billionaire Lindsay Fox has pledged a remarkable $100 million to the building of a new contemporary art gallery for the National Gallery of Victoria (NGV). With the donation, the Fox family have secured naming rights for the new building that will become the largest contemporary art and design exhibition space in the country, named The Fox: NGV Contemporary.
It’s been more than a year of rubbing shoulders with Australia’s billionaires for National Gallery of Victoria director Tony Ellwood, with the first donation for the project being secured at the end of 2020. This initial donation was of $20 million from the Ian Potter Foundation, and donations totalled around $40 million before the Fox announcement was made earlier this week.
By committing the nine-figure sum to the NGV, the Fox family have set a new philanthropic benchmark in Australia, as the largest ever amount pledged by a living donor. The donation was announced on Lindsay Fox’s 85th birthday this week and will form the focal point of the $1.7 billion Melbourne Arts Precinct that is set to be transformed over the next five years, expected to be completed in 2028.
While the announcement was made on Lindsay Fox’s birthday and he signed the cheque, it was actually his wife, Paula Fox, who initiated discussions about making a donation to the NGV gallery project. Paula Fox sits on the NGV Foundation Board, and was made aware that the NGV was seeking donations when director Tony Ellwood approached her.
“Tony approached me about 12 months ago and asked would we be interested in having our name on the building,” Paula Fox told The Age.
“I waited a little while and then I said to Lindsay, ‘How do you feel about giving $100 million to the gallery?’ And he didn’t hesitate, he said, ‘That’s fine.’”
While it’s certainly no insignificant sum, Lindsay Fox explained that the donation wasn’t about himself, but instead was about the ongoing commitment to the arts by his family.
“We’re a family that enjoys giving,” said Lindsay Fox.
“The reason it’s ‘Fox’ not ‘Lindsay and Paula’ is that this is a family affair that these kids will carry on for generation after generation.”
“I’ve got my name on 5,000 trucks. I think you’ve got to look at this in the light of my family. My family are supporting their mother, we are supporting the community of which we are members. The rest takes care of itself.”