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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Software Tycoon Donates 1000 Artworks to Galleries ...

SANTA MONICA, California -- Software tycoon Peter Norton and his wife Eileen Norton are donating nearly 1,000 works of contemporary art from their private collection to 28 museums in the United States.

The paintings, sculptures, prints and photographs will be distributed in themed packages, the Norton Family Foundation said Tuesday. The Tate Gallery in London will also receive some works.

Norton, who estimated his total donation at $3 million, said most of the 465 or so artists represented are virtually unknown outside the art community, having emerged only in the 1990s.

The main beneficiaries are modest suburban and college galleries trying to build collections and widen the audience for new art.

"Our primary desire was to give these works where the need was greatest,'' Norton said.

Only a handful of major museums will benefit. One of those, New York's Museum of Modern Art, will get 21 works.

Norton, whose former company created the Norton Utilities software, said the donation represents about 40 percent of the works that he and his wife, Eileen, began collecting in the 1980s.

"We're refining and culling. But we aren't throwing it away, and we aren't dumping it on the auction market,'' said Norton, who also grabbed headlines in June when he paid $156,500 at an auction for 14 letters written by author J.D. Salinger to a young woman with whom he had a May-December romance. Norton returned the letters to the reclusive author.

"It's really important for us,'' curator Dana Self said. "It's a wonderful affirmation that what we're doing here is not only special but really important on a national level.''