What I Buy and Why: Fabrizio Moretti on His Encyclopedic Collection, and the Urs Fischer Sculpture That’s Too Big to Fit Anywhere

The Italian dealer is based in Monaco and has a special focus on Old Masters.

Collector and dealer Fabrizio Moretti.

Within a sea of contemporary art at the Art Monte-Carlo fair earlier this month, a booth hung with gold tempera-on-panel paintings from the 14th and 15th centuries offered a glittering change of scenery.

It belonged to Galleria Moretti, which is based in Florence, London, and Monaco and is owned by Fabrizio Moretti. The son of an esteemed Tuscan antiques dealer, Moretti specializes in Old Masters. But that doesn’t limit his personal collecting style, which defies categorization.

The New National Museum of Monaco staged an exhibition focused on the breadth of Moretti’s collection in 2019, which included works by Gian Lorenzo Bernini, Alighiero Boetti, Gerhard Richter, and Jenny Saville, to name a few. The works, altogether, spanned 60 years of Western art history.

We spoke to the dealer about his formidable collection, and why he’s stumped about what to do with a sculpture of himself, which is too big to fit anywhere.

Urs Fisher, <i>Marsupiale (Fabrizio)</i> (2017).

Urs Fisher, Marsupiale (Fabrizio) (2017).

What was your first purchase (and how much did you pay for it)?

Tommaso Manzuoli, called Maso da San Friano (Florence, 1531-1571), Portrait of a Youth of the Order of St. Michael. I don’t remember what I paid.

What was your most recent purchase?

I just bought an Ed Ruscha drawing—a small thing titled LAX (Dedicated to Los Angeles International Airport) from 2021.

Which works or artists are you hoping to add to your collection this year?

It’s difficult to say. I believe that it is not a collector that finds the picture, but the picture that finds the collector. The future will tell.

What is the most expensive art work you own?

I don’t like to judge art on the basis of value. I believe that I own some very valuable contemporary paintings, but I believe in the intellectual value of things so I will highlight my beautiful Pontormo, Madonna and Child with the Infant Saint John the Baptist.

Pontormo (Empoli, 1494 - Florence, 1557), <i>Madonna and Child with the Infant Saint John the Baptist.</i>

Pontormo (Empoli, 1494 – Florence, 1557), Madonna and Child with the Infant Saint John the Baptist.

Where do you buy art most frequently?

Auction houses, dealers, and private collections.

Is there an artwork you regret purchasing?

Never as a collector, many times as an art dealer.

What work do you have hanging above your sofa? What about in your bathroom?

Jan Lievens’s Portrait of a young man in a beret. I don’t hang paintings in the bathroom. A painting needs respect.

Ed Ruscha's <i>LAX</I> (2017).

Ed Ruscha’s LAX (2021).

What is the most impractical work of art you own?

A sculpture of myself by Urs Fisher, Marsupiale (Fabrizio), from 2017. It is too big and I do not know where to put it.

What work do you wish you had bought when you had the chance?

The beautiful Giovanni da Rimini that’s now in the Lauder collection.

If you could steal one work of art without getting caught, what would it be?

Allegory of Love by Bronzino at the National Gallery of London.

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