New Zealander gets Picasso, Matisse and Dali artworks as part of $268m legacy from US billionaire’s death

“He and my mother felt very strongly that they wanted as many people as possible to see the photos, as he invited them, and to have the most impact,” son Jay Robertson said. “He thought there was no such thing in New Zealand and would be appreciated more than anywhere else.”

“The best ever”

The group’s current market value is more than NZ$300 million ($268 million), according to Charles Nino, art director at Web Auctions in Auckland.

“The Robertsons bought the best of the best, those of European modernism,” said Nino. “The market has a voracious appetite for all these artists and it’s hard to get good examples.”

Oakland Art Gallery director Kirsten Lacey said she saw the “extraordinary” paintings in Robertson’s living room in Manhattan when she visited in late 2019.

“The paintings were literally hung from floor to ceiling around those walls,” she said. “There was only a centimeter of the bare wall, and he had looked upon this promised gift until his last days, and I think he fondly remembered his time in New Zealand.”

Julian and Josie Robertson, who died in 2010, first visited New Zealand in 1978. Robertson previously told Bloomberg that he needed a break from work and hoped to write the great American novel. Six months later, concluding that he was better at investing than he was at writing, Robertson returned to New York and founded Tiger Management. But his love affair with New Zealand continued.

New Zealand shelter

Jay Robertson said his father was “fond of geography” and dreamed of traveling the country long before he did. Until the last years of his life, Robertson spent the Southern Hemisphere summers in New Zealand every year.

“I think, most of all,” he said, “my father loved beautiful places.” “New Zealand fits this law.”

Robertson was able to take advantage of the country’s natural beauty. In 1995, he returned to New Zealand and bought a sheep farm near the Bay of Islands, 250 kilometers north of Auckland. Over the next six years, he developed and opened the Kauri Cliffs Golf Course, indulging in his passion for the sport. The par-72 championship course was designed by the late David Harman and is currently ranked 26th in the world, according to Golf Digest. An on-site luxury lodge followed shortly after.

Robertson went on to buy a second farm in Hook’s Bay 325 kilometers northeast of Wellington, which he also developed into a championship golf course and a luxury lodge – The Farm at Cape Kidnappers.

Robertson’s foray into upscale tourism was completed in 2009 with the purchase of Matakauri Lodge in the South Island ski resort of Queenstown.

The developments were not without criticism. Local environmentalists protested against some of the plans for his Hawke’s Bay property, which Robertson told Bloomberg in 2006 was a “slap in the face.”

The three inns, along with Dry River Winery in the developing Wairarapa Pinot Noir region north of Wellington, form the Robertson Lodges Company, of which Jay Robertson is CEO.

Jay Robertson said he and his two brothers Stay committed to New Zealand.

“Our parents created a wonderful base from which to launch and continue developing real estate,” he said. “I think we all secretly wish to make our own mark as our parents did in the three beautiful places we have there.”

For now, the focus is on making existing properties the best they can be. Jay Robertson said the company has always been open to opportunities, but it is not currently setting its sights on another property.

Former New Zealand Prime Minister John Key, who awarded Julian Robertson an Honorary Knighthood, said the giant hedge fund’s investment in the country’s tourism was transformative.

“It has created an entire market segment for affordable tourists all over the world to come and experience a five-star version of our country,” he said.

Key, who was prime minister from 2008 to 2016 and was the former global head of foreign exchange at Merrill Lynch, said he has known Robertson since his banking days and was visiting him in New York.

“Julian has left a tremendous legacy in New Zealand and has really shown the strength of people who are not New Zealanders, but have a real passion and love for the country,” he said.

Bloomberg Wealth

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