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Portrait of Natasha Gelman, 1943 by Diego Rivera 0

Art school’s $1 million donation has Hollywood flair

June 25th, 2016

The School of the Art Institute has received a $1 million donation from names connected to Cantinflas, the great Mexican comic film actor.

The Jacques and Natasha Gelman Foundation has pledged $1 million to support the School of the Art Institute of Chicago’s College Arts Access Program, which brings Chicago Public School students to the college.

The Gelmans, both deceased, have an interesting story.

Before his 1986 death, Jacques Gelman amassed a fortune from Mexican movies featuring Cantinflas, also known as Mexico’s own Charlie Chaplin. CantinflasYou might remember Cantinflas for his role in “Around the World in 80 Days,” a film that came out in 1956 and went on to win five Academy Awards–including best picture. Cantinflas won a Golden Globe for best actor.

Natasha Gelman, who died in 1998, and her husband built an impressive art collection that included works by Picasso, Henri Matisse, Joan Miro and Diego Rivera, who was commissioned by Jacque to paint Natasha (it’s above).

The Gelman collection has been on view throughout the country, including at the Metropolitan Museum of Art.

Walter Massey, president of the School of the Art Institute, told board members in an email that the Gelman gift has pushed the school’s fundraising campaign over $40 million.

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