Estee Lauder heir Leonard Lauder has given his renowned collection of 78 Cubist art work to New York’s Metropolitan Museum of Art in a grand gesture – not least because the pieces are thought to be around a whopping $1 billion.

"Leonard's gift is truly transformational for the Metropolitan Museum,"Metropolitan Museum of Art director Thomas Campbell said, according to Sky News, adding: "Although the Met is unique in its ability to exhibit over 5,000 years of art history, we have long lacked this critical dimension in the story of modernism. Now, Cubism will be represented with some of its greatest masterpieces. This is an extraordinary gift to our museum and our city."

One of the most influential movements of 20th century art, Cubism’s highlights include works like Picasso's The Scallop Shell (Notre avenir est dans l'air, 1912), Woman In An Armchair (Eva, 1913), Braque's Trees At L'Estaque (1908) and The Violin (Mozart/Kubelick, 1912) – all are included among the new Metropolitan collection. As for Lauder himself, he commented that his gift was for "the people who live and work in New York and those from around the world who come to visit our great arts institutions".

"I selected the Met as the way to share this collection because I feel that it's essential that Cubism - and the art that follows it, for that matter - be seen and studied within the collections of one of the greatest encyclopaedic museums in the world," the 80-year-old said. The pieces will be shown as exhibits from 2014.

Leonard Lauder
Leonard Lauder has donated $1 billion worth of Cubist works to New York