What I Buy and Why: Hotelier Rami Fustok on the Jeff Koons He Wishes He’d Bought, and the $400,000 Romero Britto He Did
A rocking horse by Britto is the most expensive artwork in the entrepreneur's collection.
Entrepreneur and art collector Rami Fustok is not afraid of color or having a little fun when it comes to creating his aesthetic environment. The Mandrake, the boutique hotel he owns in London, is a vibrant testament to Fustok’s holistic vision, filled with rich textiles, bold artworks, thoughtful accents, soundscapes, and signature scents. Simply put: this is not a traditional luxury hotel.
Fustok brings this same creative spirit to building his art collection. Recently, the energetic art lover talked to Artnet News about his collection, his hotel’s upcoming artist-in-residence, and the pricey work he bought by Romero Britto.
What was your first purchase (and how much did you pay for it)?
My first purchase was my Angel sculpture by Bushra Fakhoury. Fakhoury is probably best known for her public sculptures, which have been shown prominently on London’s Park Lane. The sculpture cost around £20,000 at the time.
What was your most recent purchase?
A multi-media photograph of LA from the British artist Zoobs Ansari. His work often deals with celebrity culture and the darker side of fame, something that vibrates pertinently in today’s age.
Which works or artists are you hoping to add to your collection this year?
Generally, I like to be spontaneous with the way I buy art. However, I am excited about the work of the hotel’s upcoming artist-in-residence, Ghanaian artist Serge Attukwei Clottey. He makes unique “Afrogallonism” pieces, assemblages made up of flattened Kufuor gallon cans, jute sacks, discarded car tires, and wood pieces, often inscribed with patterns and text, which examine the powerful agency of everyday objects, and their ecological legacies.
What is the most expensive work of art that you own?
Probably a large-scale rocking horse sculpture from the Brazilian artist Romero Britto. It cost around $400,000.
Where do you buy art most frequently?
I think of all places I purchase most regularly at Art Basel Miami Beach. The fair is always a great place to discover work. I’m also lucky to travel and to learn about flourishing art scenes on the ground. It was on a trip with Gallery 1957, in Accra, that I first came across Serge’s work during a studio visit. I purchased a painting that’s now part of my collection as well.
Is there a work you regret purchasing?
No, I don’t hold regrets when it comes to art; I love them all.
What work do you have hanging above your sofa? What about in your bathroom?
My bathroom is currently art free, but I have an oil on canvas by the German artist Jonas Burgert above my sofa, titled Bleibleib. It’s a large work depicting a classically draped female figure—it’s one of several works by Burgert in my collection.
What is the most impractical work of art you own?
I do not deem any art to be impractical!
What work do you wish you had bought when you had the chance?
I actually wish I’d bought more of the Jeff Koons-designed Balloon Venus bottle holders from Dom Pérignon. Based on Koons’s existing large-scale sculpture of a paleolithic fertility figurine it a more manageable addition to the home.
If you could steal one work of art without getting caught, what would it be?
I think any Francis Bacon triptych.
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