Former TV director and renowned art collector was 83 – The Hollywood Reporter

Blake Byrne, co-founder and former chairman of Argyle Television station owner and one of the world’s leading art collectors, has passed away. He was 83 years old.

Byrne passed away peacefully in his sleep at his home in the Hollywood Hills early Sunday morning, said Barbara Schwan, executive director of the Skylark Foundation. Hollywood journalist.

Byrne founded the Skylark Foundation, a philanthropic family business that funds the arts and humanities, education, environmental protection and services for women, the elderly and young gays and lesbians, in 1995 .

He came to Los Angeles in 1989 to become president and CEO of KCAL-9. Three years later, he co-founded Argyle Television in LA and San Antonio. (Argyle then merged its stations with those of Hearst Corp. in 1997.)

Born July 2, 1935 in Columbus, Ohio, Byrne received his BA from Duke University in 1957 and an MBA from Columbia University in 1961; that year he joined CBS in New York as a sales manager.

Byrne then worked at stations in Portland, Oregon and Providence, Rhode Island, before becoming president and CEO of KXAS-TV in Fort Worth, Texas, then vice president of the television group for KXAS owner LIN Broadcasting in 1982.

Most recently, he was chairman of the Byrne Acquisition Group (the company of his son John Byrne), which owns television and radio stations in Wisconsin and South Carolina.

In 2005, Byrne donated 123 works to the Museum of Contemporary Art in LA, which was the largest private donation in the history of the museum. He was a director of MOCA since 1999 and a life director since 2011.

He also donated pieces to the Nasher Museum on the Duke campus in Durham, North Carolina; at the Fort Worth Art Museum; and at the Center Pompidou in Paris.

Before embarking on the collection, Byrne “didn’t even know what I liked,” he recalls in a 2015 interview with Art + Auctions magazine. New York art dealer Jack Tilton suggested he go to Art Basel, and after two trips to Switzerland, he bought six pieces in 1988 on a budget of $ 60,000.

“It was the start of the collection,” he said. “After I had those first six, I got bitten.”

His collection included works by Martin Disler, Richard Tuttle, Marlene Dumas, Andy Warhol, Barbara Lekberg, Jackson Pollock, and John Baldessari.

In 2012, Byrne was honored with a Chevalier de l’Ordre des Arts et des Lettres, awarded to those who have made a significant contribution to the arts, literature or the propagation of these fields in France.

In addition to her son, survivors include her daughter, Jocelyn; her daughter-in-law, Charlotte; grandchildren John Morris, James, Lily, Oliver, Benito and Diego; and partner Justin Gilanyi.

Norma D. Ross