Soccer Players Are Buying Picassos Thanks to Rising Salaries

Picasso Tête de Marie-Thérèse Oil on canvas Painted June 4, 1932 - March 1934 Estimate $15/20 million. Photo: Courtesy Sotheby's
Picasso Tête de Marie-Thérèse Oil on canvas Painted June 4, 1932 - March 1934 Estimate $15/20 million. Photo: Courtesy Sotheby's

As salaries rise in the UK’s Premier League, its soccer players are becoming enthusiastic art collectors, reports Bloomberg Businessweek.

The Premier League’s payroll jumped eight percent for the 2012–13 season, with an average salary of £1.6 million pounds ($2.7 million). The generous compensation has brought in talent from around the world, many of whom appear to be spending some of their generous income on fine art.

According to Lee Dixon, a Arsenal defender turned match analyst for the ITV network, “They have so much expendable income they can do what they want to a certain extent. . . . I know of English players who have invested in Picasso paintings and sculptures.”

Retired soccer star David Beckham, who won six Premier League titles during his career, is said to have amassed a love-themed art collection worth some $40 million with wife Victoria Beckham. As reported by the Mirror, the artists represented in their holdings include Damien Hirst, Sam Taylor Wood, Tracey Emin, and Banksy.

Athletes on this side of the Atlantic have also been known to dabble in art collecting. Recently-retired NBA star Grant Hill’s website proclaims the athlete to be “one of the world’s premier collectors of African American art,” while a whole slew of players, including Kobe Bryant, Carmelo Anthony, and Kevin Durant, have commissioned Pop-art style portraits on Plexiglas from Los Angeles-based artist Mike Farhat.

Alex Rodriguez has also made headlines for his art collecting: Page Six reported in December that the controversial slugger had spent $140,000 on a Nate Lowman piece at Art Basel in Miami Beach. A-Rod’s collection is said to include a suite of Andy Warhol Marilyn screenprints, as well as work by Urs Fischer, Jean-Michel Basquiat, and John Baldessari, among others.

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