Meet 20 of the World’s Most Innovative Art Collectors
See who's rethinking collecting for the 21st century.
With so many new collectors populating the art world today, it no longer cuts it to simply know the up-and-coming artists and collect their work “deep.” Increasingly, collectors are looking to set themselves apart either by collecting with a specific focus (see: Peter Marino’s Renaissance and baroque sculpture), by looking to a greater cause (see: Leonardo DiCaprio’s taking his environmental activism to the auction block), or by turning yourself into a Renaissance woman of the arts (as per Maria Baibakova). And they’re everywhere. Here are twenty of the world’s most innovative collectors.
Since 2008, when he first picked up a work on paper by Julie Mehretu, this young Nigerian collector has had a thing for contemporary art. Now owning over 400 works, Danjuma, the son of Nigeria’s former Chief of Army Staff and Africa’s 29th richest man (see: Mega-Rich Nigerian Ex-General’s Son Makes Art World Splash), will use a wing in his family’s hotel in Lagos to show contemporary art, and plans to invite established artists to Lagos to meet the city’s young art students. He’s also emblematic of Nigeria’s growing visibility in the world of contemporary art.
Since she opened a temporary non-profit art space called Baibakova Art Projects in an old Moscow chocolate factory in 2008, Maria Baibakova has been attracting attention. Recently, she added to her bio as supporter of the arts senior advisor to Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts and trustee of Barnard College. On November 4, she will be named one of Performa’s “Renaissance Women.” Her Miami apartment displays artworks by contemporary artists such as Richard Prince, Allora & Calzadilla, Tracey Emin, and Andrea Gursky. Despite her recent gaffe in Russian Tatler (see: Maria Baibakova is So Sorry People Are Making Fun of Her), Baibakova continues be someone to watch.
Architect to the world’s biggest fashion houses (Louis Vuitton, Chanel, and Dior are among them), the always-leather-clad Marino collects Renaissance and baroque bronzes, but also commissions original artwork for the interior spaces he designs like those created by Jean Michel Othoniel for Chanel boutiques the world over. As for the works of contemporary art in his personal collection, like the portrait of Marino that Damien Hirst made with gas masks, the works reflect the collector. In December, Marino’s collection will be showcased at Miami’s Bass Museum of Art.
Chairman of the New World Development, a $16 billion real estate and retail venture, Adrian Cheng has joined commerce with art in his K11Art Mall, a museum that aims to increase the visibility of Chinese contemporary art with branches in Hong Kong, Shanghai, and Chengdu. Cheng is also a passionate art collector himself and owns works of local and international artists.
Ingvild Goetz began to collect media art in the 1990s when she was still an art dealer. Today, she owns one of the largest private collections of video art and media works in the world, nearly half of which is composed of women artists. And she shows it, along with her extensive collection of contemporary art, in her private Herzog & de Meuron-designed museum in Munich.
The Filipino real estate developer and collector who famously lured Rem Koolhaas into designing his home (it was Koolhaas’s first residential design project in 15 years), Robbie Antonio fills that home with contemporary art and hopes to bring the Western idea of art collecting to the Philippines. What sets him apart is his out-there “Obsession” project, a series of portraits he’s commissioned of himself by some of the most renowned living artists including Marina Abramović, Zhang Huan, and The Bruce High Quality Foundation.
Victoria and David Beckham
A former pop star-turned-entrepreneur and a celebrated soccer player, the UK–based duo collect art by the YBAs around the theme of “love.” Having been married for 15 years, and with four children, this power couple knows what love means in the 21st century. Their collection includes works by Tracey Emin, Damien Hirst, Banksy, and Jake and Dinos Chapman.
The mega movie-star helped raise millions for the environment with his “11th Hour” sale at Christie’s in May 2013 (named after an environmental documentary he co-produced). One of his first art purchases was a Basquiat drawing, but he also collects more unusual things like fossils and Golden-Era Hollywood movie posters.
By making his fortune as a professional gambler, Walsh is fascinated by death and sex. So he opened his own museum, The Museum of Old and New Art (MONA) in Tasmania, Australia, solely dedicated to these two subjects. A museum of curios, visitors can see 151 sculptures of women’s vulvas, racks of rotting cow carcasses, and the remains of a suicide bomber cast in chocolate. But the most loathed and most visited installation in the museum is Wim Delvoye’s Cloaca Professional, a massive, stinking machine that replicates the human digestive system.
A senior partner at McKinsey & Co., Alan Lau collects art around the themes of text (like work by Xu Bing) and technology, such as works like Jon Rafman’s Google Street View images. He became one of the first Hong Kong collectors to donate a major work to the West Kowloon Museum when he gifted Turner Prize nominee Tino Sehgal’s Guards Kissing. Lau was appointed mayor in Beijing artist Cao Fei’s second life city RMB.
In the five years that Brazilian collector Camilla Barella and her husband Eduardo have been buying art, they’ve cultivated a unique aesthetic while admitting that at times they’ve had to fight for access to works at galleries reluctant to sell to “unknowns.” Camilla has said that she’s drawn to art that “does not cause a good and comfortable feeling, but on the contrary intrigues and disturbs me.” Their collection includes work by Ana Maria Tavares and recent favorite highlights from SP Arte like Shilpa Gupta and Ion Grigorescu.
This former stock broker from New Jersey got his start collecting film posters: Orson Welles’s Citizen Kane signed by Welles; the original 1931 Dracula poster, formerly owned by Nicholas Cage; and the original poster for Metropolis, which made headlines when DeLuca paid $1.2 million for it at auction. What began in the early 1990s as a passion project has evolved into a sizable collection that has grown to include works of contemporary art.
Arthur de Ganay
It was upon seeing a work by Hiroshi Sugimoto that Arthur de Ganay decided to collect contemporary art, and mainly large-format photographs that grapple with landscape and architecture. After 10 years of collecting, he opened up his own exhibition space in an old Jam factory in Berlin where the public can view his collection. The three contemporary artists de Ganay believes will be relevant in five years are Thomas Ruff, Hiroshi Sugimoto, and Elger Esser.
Nicky and Robert Wilson
Jupiter Artland is a sculpture park set on 100 acres in Edinburgh, Scotland, that doubles as the family home of Nicky and Robert Wilson. In 2005, the duo started peppering the grounds of their home with contemporary artworks—most of it site-specific—including Anya Gallaccio’s crystal grotto (The Light Pours Out of Me), Mark Quinn’s Love Bomb, and Charles Jencks’s landscape work Life Mounds, eight rolling emerald green hills, which spawned the project.
A real estate developer with a focus on historic preservation, Ramin Salsali established the Salsali Private Museum in Dubai—the first private museum of contemporary art in the region—to showcase his collection of 800 works by Middle Eastern artists.
The Mexican-born film producer created Alumnos 47, a foundation which supports the local arts community in Mexico City as well as projects related to film, media, and social issues. He’s only been collecting for a handful of years, in 2010, he partly financed Mexican artist Pedro Reyes’s Marxist puppet show and owns work by Reyes. He’s also on the boards of the Rufino Tamayo Museum and the Monte Fénix museum.
Brazilian bond trader and art collector Perdro Barbosa has become known as a globe-trotting collector with a sharp eye for spotting talent, be it trolling the aisles of the Frieze art fair in London, scouting Brazilian art schools, sending his personal curator Jacopo Crivelli Visconti (also curator of the Brazilian pavilion at the 2007 Venice Biennial) abroad and inviting guest curators into his home to create shows. His collection ranges from young Brazilian artists including Jonathas de Andrade and Andre Komatsu to relatively new discoveries like Lebanese artist Rayyaane Tabet and more established names such as Tomas Saraceno, Olafur Eliasson, and Wolfgang Tillmans.
Founder of an advertising agency in Wuppertal, Boros lives in one of the most unconventional homes in the world: an old WW II bunker in Berlin which he partly converted into a private gallery. His collection consists of works by Olafur Eliasson, Wolfgang Tillmans, Sarah Lucas, and Damien Hirst. Rather different from other collectors, Boros and his wife buy works in the year that they were created.
Monique and Max Burger
The Hong Kong–based husband and wife duo own a large private collection of up to 1000 works by 120 artists. The Burger Collection focuses on Euro-American, Indian to Asian art, and also engages in art patronage, as well as lending their works to major museum exhibitions.
Architect Joaquin Diez-Cascon is the founder of the only art collector organized art fair, called SWAB, which is organized in Barcelona. A collector of emerging artists, Diez-Cascon once collected Spanish artists, but is now focusing on young artists all over the world who worked in the 1970s and ’80s.
Bonus: Luciano Benetton
After retiring as the president of the Benetton Group S.p.A., Luciano Benetton focused on bringing some of that United Colors feel to the area of collecting. First opened as a satellite exhibition at the 55th Venice Biennale, his Imago Mundi contemporary art project is being developed as a world map of sorts that intends to capture all cultures—from Aboriginal Australians to Inuit artists—and will include, by the end of 2015, over 10,000 artworks from over 80 countries. Benetton desires to have his collection represent an artistic geography of the world, to be shared and consumed by the public.
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