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British billionaire loaned paintings to MFA

One man is a British billionaire married to a beautiful heiress and living, at least part of the time, in a Los Angeles mansion known as Candyland. The other is a museum director with an expertise in British portraiture. Naturally, James Stunt and Malcolm Rogers had plenty to discuss when the Museum of Fine Arts boss headed west in January to meet Stunt, who has been building a stunning art collection to go with his Lamborghinis. For Bostonians, Rogers’s visit to the lavish LA home that Stunt shares with his glamorous wife, Petra Ecclestone, has already made a difference. Stunt has loaned the MFA five works, including a rare oil portrait by European master Anthony van Dyck and the fetching 17th-century painting “Portrait of Moll Davis” by Peter Lely. “It’s an exciting new relationship,” said Rogers of his visit with Stunt. “Though we have some beautiful British paintings, it’s not the strongest area of our collections. Can you believe we don’t have a portrait of a beautiful, sexy woman by Lely?” Three of the works, the van Dyck, Lely, and a Joshua Reynolds, are now on display. Two others, by Thomas Lawrence and John Constable, will be on view next week.

Geoff Edgers can be reached at