Wealthy patrons and avid art collectors have been the life-blood of the art world for centuries, as the world of art and money has always been closely associated. Today’s billionaires like Steven. A. Cohen, Carlos Slim Helu, Ronald S. Lauder, Francois Pinault, Leon Black, and Bernard Arnault, to name a few, are also no different from dukes and kings of the pasts in terms for their love for expensive art. They have a passion for art. They splash out multimillion dollars on an art work to appreciate it, to learn from it, preserve it and to make sustainable profits from it. And, the end result of many a great art collection by billionaire tycoons is often the creation of museums, which help advance public appreciation for art work and benefit society for generations. Here, we have listed down some of today's great art collectors and their ultra-expensive collectibles.
1). Art Collector: Bernard Arnault
Museum: Louis Vuitton Foundation for Creation in Paris
Art Type: Contemporary arts
Richest person of Europe and the 4th richest person in the world, French business magnate and a notable art collector, Bernard Arnault have plans to build a major contemporary arts center named the ‘Louis Vuitton Foundation for Creation’ in Paris, which will contain exhibition galleries, an auditorium and an indoor garden.
Chairman and majority owner of LVMH, this luxury good tycoon commissioned Frank Gehry to design the museum’s building which will hold Arnault’s vast corporate and private collections of art, including 20th century classics from Picasso, Andy Warhol, and Henry Moore mixed with noted modern works by Jeff Koons, Frank Serra, and Agnes Martin.
Some of Arnault’s personal art collection will include American artist Ellsworth Kelly’s 1968 abstract painting, Red White Blue.
2). Art Collector: Leon Black
Net Worth: $3.5 billion
Country: United States
Billionaire New York financier, the Chairman and Chief Executive of Apollo Global Management, Leon Black has emerged as the mysterious $120 million buyer of the renowned Norwegian Expressionist artist Edward Munch’s ‘The Scream’, a highly coveted masterpiece.
Black also reportedly paid $47.6 million in 2009 for Raphael’s chalk masterpiece.
Leon Black’s $750 million art collection already boats drawings by Raphael and Vincent Van Gogh, and Cubists paintings by Pablo.
3). Art Collector: Eli and Edythe Broad
Museum: Eli and Edythe Broad Art Museum
Art Type: Contemporary art
Drawn from the collections of two of the foremost philanthropists, American businessmen, art collectors and patrons Eli Broad and his wife Edythe, the Broad Art Foundation is a leading resource of contemporary art, which was established with a strong desire to advance public appreciation for contemporary art.
The Broad collection includes 2000 artworks by more than 200 artists of the 60s and 70s. Among the artists represented in-depth in the Broad Collections are Jeff Koons, Joseph Beuys, Cindy Sherman, Damien Hirst, John Baldessari, Jean-Michael Basquiat, Leon Golub, Andy Warhol, and Jasper Johns, to name a few.
Notably, more than 100 million people have viewed the works in the foundation’s world-renowned contemporary art collection through more than 7,100 loans to 475 museums and galleries around the world.
4). Art Collector: Pierre Chen
Occupation: Founder of Yageo Corporation
Country: Taipei, Taiwan
CEO of Yageo Corporation, the tall, slim and always a classy dresser Pierre Chen shares the honors with Barry Lam of Quanta as the most sophisticated art connoisseur in the Taiwanese business community.
From entrepreneur to a savviest art collector, Pierre Chen has put a considerable effort into his art collecting. He does lots of homework, and asks for opinions from a lot of artists before buying a painting.
One of Pierre Chen’s collections, Tamsui, an oil painting by Japanese-period Taiwanese artist Chen Cheng-po fetched $4.5 million (NT$144 million), setting the latest world record for a ‘NT $100 million’ purchase of an oil painting by an ethnic Chinese artist.
5). Art Collector: Steven A. Cohen
Art Type: Modern Art
One of the most high profile figures in finance, American hedge fund manager and America’s 35th richest person with a net worth of $9.3 billion, Steven A. Cohen has bought around $700 million worth of artwork collection, which includes one of Jackson Pollock’s iconic drip paintings, a Manet self-portrait, well-known pop works like Andy Warhol’s ‘Superman’, Jeff Kon’s Balloon Dog (Yellow) and Roy Lichtenstein’s ‘Popeye’.
He also recently paid $8 million for the Damien Hirst’s 14-foot tiger shark, submerged in a tank of Formaldehyde, besides $63.5 million purchase of landscape painting entitled ‘Police gazette’ by artist Willem de Kooning, the $52 million No. 8, 1949 (Drip Painting) by Jackson Pollock, $137.5 million Woman III by Willem de Kooning.
A significant modern art collector, Cohen actually attacked the art world in the fashion as he attacks business.
Cohen also stated that his favorite painting at the moment was a Francis Bacon "Screaming Pope," which hangs on a wall outside his master bedroom.
6). Art Collector: Ronald S. Lauder
Museum: Neue Galeri at Fifth Avenue and 86th Sreet, NY
Art Type: German Expressionist artworks
Known for his cosmetics empire of Estée Lauder Companies, American business magnate and one of the world’s richest men with a net worth of $3.3 billion, Ronald Stevel Lauder became the highlight in the global art community by acquiring ‘Portrait of Adele Bloch-Bauer I’ by Gustav Klimt for $135 million, the highest price ever paid for a painting in 2006.
He also the founder of the tiny museum named Neue Galeri at Fifth Avenue and 86th Sreet, NY, devoted entirely to German and Austrian decorative and fine arts from the early 20th century. The museum also holds one of the best collections in the world of works by Egon Schiele.
Lauder also has the world’s largest private collection of Medieval and Renaissance armor.
Mr. Laudner’s art collection is among the most prominent private holdings of German Expressionist artworks between the two world wars.
7). Art Collector: Dmitry Marvommatis
Greek financier and Sotheby’s board member, Dmitry Marvomatris is known for living with his 70s Sevres porcelain vases and 18th century gilt furniture in his lavish art-filled apartment building in Paris.
He possesses a fine collection of African art, modern paintings and Art Deco furniture, which includes Greek art pieces, Old Master paintings, a side table by Andre Groult, to name a few.
Recently, he bought $1.4 million pair of ‘Gonse’ armchairs by the Art Deco master Emile-Jacques Ruhlman in an auction8). Art Collector: Philip Nirchos
Art Type: Modern Art and Impressionist
Late Greek shipping magnate Stavros Niarchos eldest son, Philip Niarchos inherited his father’s impressive art collection comprising of masterpieces like Vincent van Gogh’s ‘Self Portrait with a Bandaged Ear’ and Pablo Picasso’s self-portrait “Yo, Picasso.”
Also a board member of the Museum of Modern Art in New York City, Philip has added mastr contemporary works as Jean-Michel Basquiat’s ‘Self-Portrait’ and Andy Warhol’s ‘Shot Red Marilyn.’ Notably, multiple art experts has pinned his impressionist and modern art collection as world’s most valuable in private hands.
9). Art Collector: Francois Pinault
Art Type: Modern Art
Museum: Punta della Dogana and Palazzo Grassi
French luxury goods tycoon who runs the retail company PPR, billionaire François Pinault's business empire includes auction house Christie's and a massive art collection worth more than $1.4 billion. This avid art collector was also ranked as one of the most powerful people in modern art.
A fast friend of former French President Jacques Chirac, Francois Pinault also owns two of the most elegant art museums as part of its Venetian empire of contemporary art; the Palazzo Grassi and the Punta della Dogana where he displays his art work collection, which includes work from the renowned artists like Damien Hirst, Takshi Murakami, Cindy Sherman and other modern artists.
In total, his expansive collection has more than 2000 of notable art pieces.
10). Art Collector: Sheikha Al-Mayassa bint Hamad bin Khalifa Al-Thani
Country: Emirate of Qatar
Art Type: Contemporary Art
Qatar was recently revealed as the world’s biggest contemporary art buyer and the Sheikha Al-Mayassa is one of the passionate art collectorin the Qatar family. Described as the art world’s most powerful woman, Sheikha Al-Mayassa bint Hamad bin Khalifa Al-Thani, the 14th child of Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa Al-Thani, the current Emir of Qatar, has played a pioneering role in the fields of education, art and cultural initiatives.
This member of the royal family of Qatar, have also purchased Paul Cezanne’s ‘The Card Players’ (1895) in a private sale for record $250 million, the highest reported price ever paid for a single work of art, to becomes one of the most notable art auctions of the year.
The Qatar art purchases includes 11 Rothko paintings from the collection of J. Ezra Merkin, art by Jeff Koons and Lichtentein, the $72.8 million “Rockfeller Rothko’, and Andy Warhol’s ‘The Men in Her Life’ for $63.4 million, to name a few, the art buyer is believed to be Sheikha Al-Mayassa.
Gulf state of Qatar is building up a top-class collection of modern and contemporary art, and 28-years old Sheikha Al-Mayassa bint Hamad bin Khalifa Al-Thani is the driving force behinds the tiny Emirate’s art buying spree. Her Excellency is also the chairperson of the Qatar Museums Authority Board of Trustees, and guides the vision of future museums and cultural projects, with an aim of transforming the State of Qatar into leading center of cultural and education for its region and the world.
11). Art Collector: Carlos Slim Helu
Net Worth: $69 billion
Museum: Museo Soumaya in Mexico
Art Type: Classical paintings and Sculptures
Mexican business magnate, telecom tycoon, a multibillionaire with a difference and one of the world’s wealthiest men with a net worth of $69 billion, Carlos Slim Helu has a passion for art, which has inspired him to open Museo Soumaya in Mexico. Museum is named after Slim’s late wife Soumaya Domit, which features 60,000 works of art by renowned artists so that others can appreciate his enormous ‘money no object’ collection.
Slim Helu has a carving for classical paintings and sculptures by great artists like Rodin, Da Vinci, and Michael Angelo. He has a total of 380 of Suguste Rodin’s work in his possession, the largest number in private hands in the world.
And, he also owns a wine glass collection worth $1 million, which was earlier owned by Porfirio Diaz, the Mexican President from 1876 to 1911.
Besides this year's top collectors, we have earlier seen Mark Rothko’s “Orange, Red, Yellow,” setting a record for the world's most expensive contemporary art at $87 million
Also check-out the most expensive paintings sold at auctions in 2011.