This article addresses the role of private foundations in commissioning site-specific ephemeral art works: contemporary art projects of a temporary nature that are realised outside of public institutions. Though small in number, I argue that the private individuals creating and managing private foundations of this nature demonstrate a new form of patronage, creating in the process a new role of ‘curator/patron’. Equally, this process of realisation reflects the changing needs of contemporary art practice. Work of this scale and ambition would increasingly not be possible without the vision, perseverance and funding of these kinds of foundation. In Australia, this trend is demonstrated by two foundations: Kaldor Art Projects, and their commissioning of works by artists such as Christo and Jeanne-Claude, Gilbert & George and Jeff Koons; and the more recently formed Sherman Contemporary Art Foundation, whose first project was with Chinese artist Ai Weiwei. In this article, these examples are placed within the broader international context of foundation models such as Artangel, UK, Fondazione Nicola Trussardi, Milan, and The Public Art Fund, New York.