From Hollywood to the Art World, the New Celebrity Collectors
Featuring Leonardo DiCaprio, Mary-Kate Olsen, and Neil Patrick Harris.
We don’t have to tell you that art collecting is an expensive hobby. Who has the cash to drop $1 million or more on a single work because of a whim (or perhaps because another collector threatens to snap it up if you don’t)? Well, celebrities, that’s who. So we’ve compiled a comprehensive list of some of the most famous people in the collecting game and what they’re buying.
1. Leonardo DiCaprio
Over the past couple of years, DiCaprio has been spotted strolling the aisles at Art Basel Miami, hiding behind sunglasses in Chelsea, attending the opening of an Andy Warhol show at the Brant Foundation, and turning up at auctions dressed in jeans and a baseball cap pulled down low—particularly for mid-auction exits when he’s clearly trying to avoid being noticed. In 2013, he orchestrated a charity auction at Christie’s entitled “The 11th Hour Sale,” to benefit environmental causes. His own Andreas Gursky satellite image of Earth, Ocean V, was auctioned. His current collection reportedly includes work by Oscar Murillo and Salvador Dalí.
2. Tobey Maguire
Leo’s good friend Tobey is also no stranger to the art world. He has been seen at the New York Armory Show and at Art Basel Miami, where in 2007, he purchased a painting from Japanese artist Kaz Oshiro. The same year, he purchased a Mark Ryden drawing at MoCA’s FRESH silent auction. In 2010, he interviewed graffiti artist KAWS for Interview Magazine.
3. Jay-Z and Beyonce
After Jay-Z’s art-world savvy, tribute performance of “Picasso Baby” at Pace Gallery last year, it should come as no surprise that he and his superstar wife, Beyonce, have an extensive and impressive art collection. In addition to two Damien Hirst paintings produced exclusively for them, Beyonce and Jay own work by Andy Warhol (which hangs over their fireplace) Richard Prince, Jean-Michel Basquiat, Tim Noble and Sue Webster, George Condo, Laurie Simmons, and Ed Ruscha. The couple have been spotted numerous times at Art Basel Miami, and in 2013, they purchased a work by street artist Hebru Brantley.
4. Brad Pitt
Pitt has been a fixture in the art world since appearing at Art Basel in 2009 alongside collectors Eli and Edythe Broad, where he purchased a Neo Rauch painting for $1 million (the Broads told him that if he didn’t buy it, they would). Also an avid collector of Art Deco furniture, in 2012, he collaborated with luxury furniture maker Frank Pollaro to produce a dozen limited-edition pieces. Additionally, as a major donor to to the Los Angeles Museum of Contemporary Art, he angled for a position on their board during the management shakeup in 2013. Unfortunately, he was rebuffed due to his lack of a college degree. As a museum insider put it, “just because he can buy art does not mean he can curate it”. In addition, some reports say that wife Angelina Jolie is less than thrilled about Brad dropping so much cash on art, feeling that instead he should donate more money to charity. We’ll be interested to see what the future has in store for this celebrity collector – apparently he was recently spotted perusing some photos at Fahey/Klein Gallery in Los Angeles.
5. Mary-Kate Olsen
The child star turned fashion icon is the owner of works by Andy Warhol, Nobuyoshi Araki, and Thomas Ruff, and told Elle Magazine: “All I really need is my bed and my art around me.” In the past she has been romantically linked to artists Nate Lowman and Max Snow.
Madonna’s art collection is almost as legendary as the superstar herself, reportedly worth over $100 million, and including some of big-time blue chip names: Picasso, Hopper, Kahlo, Leger, Dali, Man Ray, and Hirst. Madonna is also a huge fan of Tamara de Lempicka, a Polish Art Deco painter known for her glamorous lifestyle, whose work Madonna perhaps fittingly helped bring back into the limelight. Unlike many other celebrity collectors, Madonna employed an art adviser, Darlene Lutz, until they became embroiled in a lawsuit over a painting in 2005. No word on whether or not she ever replaced the consultant, but in recent years, she has taken to making visual art herself. Along with fashion photographer Steven Klein, Madge created Secretprojectrevolution, a 17-minute projection that opened at Gagosian Gallery in 2013. Apparently, Madonna has a long history with Gagosian himself, dating back to the 1980’s, when Madonna briefly dated Jean Michel Basquiat, who was represented by the gallery.
7. David and Victoria Beckham
Though not technically “Hollywood”, this celebrity couple has amassed an impressive art collection, which features Damien Hirst, Sam Taylor Wood, Tracey Emin, Banksy, and Jake and Dinos Chapman, much of which was purchased from London’s White Cube Gallery. Victoria reportedly wishes to be “a mover and shaker in more upmarket circles nowadays and likes being a ‘collector’…She is even in talks with a museum to showcase some of their pieces.” Granted, these “talks” reportedly took place in 2010, but who knows? It could still happen. More recently, David has expressed an interest in taking up street art himself, hoping to portray his wife in a Banksy-inspired painting.
8. Sofia Coppola
It comes as no surprise that the chic and sophisticated director is also an art collector. Elizabeth Peyton, Tracey Emin, and William Eggleston line the walls of her home, and according to W Magazine, the pieces are “not only striking, but [evocative of] the visual mood of Coppola’s films. The Eggleston, especially…looked like an outtake from The Virgin Suicides.” in 2010, she was spotted at Art Basel Miami and NADA purchasing works by Austrian conceptual sculptor Hugo Markl and French painter Anne-Laure Sacriste. A CalArts graduate, she co-chaired the committee for the 2014 exhibition and sale.
9. Neil Patrick Harris
Unlike many stars who seem bent on acquiring Warhols and Banksys, the How I Met Your Mother star prefers to focus his attention on “contemporary, medium-size sort of up and comers,” including Ahmed Alsoudani, Annie Lapin, and more under-the-radar names such as David Wojnarowicz. A collector since the early 2000’s, his first purchase was a Robert Longo, bought at the Margo Leavin Gallery. Harris’s collection also includes Tony Payne, Andrew Sendor and Darina Karpov, and apparently has gotten so large that he and his husband, David Burtka, are running out of places to hang it.
10. Swizz Beatz
Rapper Swizz Beatz (real name Kasseem Dean) is dedicated to living the #ArtLife, and while we’re not entirely sure what that means, we’re impressed with his collection, which boasts pieces by Basquiat, Swoon, Ernie Barnes, KAWS, Takashi Murakami, and Cecily Brown. It was his interest in Basquiat that inspired him to start looking at and collecting art. He told Artspace that he approached high-profile dealers like Enrico Navarro, Jeffrey Deitch, and Tony Shafrazi about buying artworks for his home and “Basquiat’s name just kept coming up in conversation, so I started doing my homework and saw that the lines with me and him were running parallel.” He has even taken inspiration from Basquiat for his own studio practice, which is supported by enthusiastic collector Jay Z.
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