Another Weider Gift

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In 2008, Joe and Betty Weider donated a second million dollars to the H.J. Lutcher Stark Center for Physical Culture and Sports at the University of Texas, and as a way to thank the Weiders for their many contributions to the fields of exercise and health as well as for their financial support to the university, The Joe and Betty Weider Museum of Physical Culture was established within the Stark Center. In addition to the million dollars, the Weiders also gave almost all of their personal art collection relating to the field of physical culture. A small part of that collection came to the Stark Center at that time, and just this week a larger part of the Weider Collection arrived at our facility. This most recent gift consisted of the remaining five portraits of prominent bodybuilders painted by the late Thomas Beecham. We already had the portraits of Franco Columbu, Lee Haney, and Larry Scott, and they’re now joined by the larger-than-life-size images of Arnold Schwarzenegger, Lou Ferrigno, Frank Zane, Dorian Yates, and Rick Wayne. In addition to the famous portraits in the Beecham Series, we received a bronze bust of Eugen Sandow dressed as the prominent businessman that he was, a bronze from the early 20th century of a gladiator, and a gold-plated enlargement of the Sandow pose used for the “Olympia” trophies. All of these pieces came with the same marble bases on which they were displayed for many years at the Weider Building. The most significant addition to the Weider Museum is a painting of Eugen Sandow as a Roman gladiator done in 1893 by the well-known artist Aubrey Hunt. Approximately 8’6” high and 5’6” wide and in an elaborate frame, the portrait depicts Sandow’s entire body as he stands near the center of a coliseum dressed in a leopard-skin and wearing Roman sandals. Although not a particularly accurate representation of Sandow’s physique and bodily proportions, it is nonetheless definitely the nonpareil himself. The Hunt Sandow has hung high on the wall for many years in the entry hall of the Weider Building as the featured painting in the collection, and it will be the featured painting in the Weider Museum here at UT as well. This unique portrait has had a long and interesting back-story and in our next issue of Iron Game History David Chapman, author of the definitive biography Sandow the Magnificentwill discuss this majestic, significant, and striking work of art. It would be hard to overstate our gratitude to the Weiders—Joe, Betty, and Ben Weider’s son, Eric, who now serves as the C.E.O. of Weider Enterprises—for their ongoing willingness to share with the wider world the treasures as well as the treasure the family has collected and earned over the years. I believe that Jan and I speak for fans and students of physical culture everywhere when we send a thousand thanks to the Weider family for what they have done and are still doing for the iron game in general and for UT in particular.


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