LONDON — Less than a month after his 67th birthday, the British advertising magnate and gallery owner Charles Saatchi announced on Thursday that when he retires he intends to give the nation his art gallery here — a 70,000-square-foot space in Chelsea — along with artworks valued at more than $37.5 million.
But the building, in a former military complex known as the Duke of York’s Headquarters near Sloane Square, does not belong to Mr. Saatchi. He rents it from Cadogan Estates, a London developer. (Cadogan Estates said in a statement that it hoped the government would keep the gallery there.) And the British government has not yet accepted the gift, although discussions are in progress, said Ruth Cairns, a spokeswoman for the Saatchi Gallery, who added that she had no timetable for a final decision. Also unclear is when Mr. Saatchi plans to retire, which Ms. Cairns said had not yet been determined. A statement from the two-year-old gallery also said that Mr. Saatchi would receive no tax benefits from the gift.
But if all goes as Mr. Saatchi hopes, the Saatchi Gallery would be renamed the Museum of Contemporary Art, London. And the art, which will include more than 200 works by popular British names like Tracey Emin, Grayson Perry and the brothers Jake and Dinos Chapman, would be given to the government in the care of a foundation that would own the works on behalf of the nation and oversee the gallery in much the same way it has been run.
The aim is to keep the space free to the public, with operating funds coming from individual and corporate sponsorship along with revenue from its restaurant, bookshop and rentals for outside events held there.
The gift would also include artworks that could be sold to acquire other art so that the museum could remain a showcase for the latest works.
Mr. Saatchi did not return a phone call requesting comment. But the gallery said in a statement that he felt it was “vital for the museum to always be able to display a living and evolving collection of work, rather than an archive of art history.”
He began collecting and showing Young British Artists — among them, Damien Hirst, Chris Ofili, Marc Quinn, Rachel Whiteread, Jenny Saville and Ms. Emin — years before they became popular. Mr. Saatchi is also known for buying and selling the work of young artists in bulk, causing the prices of their other works to rise quickly when he buys and fall as quickly when he sells. In 2003 he sold about a dozen of Mr. Hirst’s works back to the artist and his dealer, Jay Jopling, in a deal that was said to be worth around $15 million.
An advertising impresario with a keen eye, Mr. Saatchi has also reached out beyond his gallery to help heighten public awareness of many of his artists. His collection is well known to American museumgoers who saw the traveling exhibition “Sensation: Young British Artists From the Saatchi Collection” at the Brooklyn Museum in 1999. That’s when Rudolph W. Giuliani, mayor of New York at the time, called the exhibition “sick stuff” and threatened to cut city subsidies because Mr. Ofili’s painting of the Virgin Mary included clumps of elephant dung.
Beyond exhibitions at his gallery, Mr. Saatchi has also built a Web site that receives millions of hits a year. Besides showing off his collection, it allows artists who register to post their work and sell it without having to pay a fee to a gallery or dealer. (About 140,000 artists have contributed.) It also has a social-networking component, allowing art students to talk to one another and post their work.
Ms. Cairns said the site would continue under its existing management and that once Mr. Saatchi retired, he would no longer be involved with it.
For years now Mr. Saatchi has had a contentious relationship with the Tate. On Thursday the Tate issued a statement saying it “welcomes the news that the national collection of contemporary art promises to be enhanced in this way.” The statement continued, “We look forward to contributing to discussions about how the collection will be used by the nation in the long term.”
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