Is Collector J. Tomilson Hill a Billionaire Because of His Art?

J. Tomlinson Hill.
Photo: © 2014 Patrick McMullan Company, Inc.

Blackstone Group vice chairman and art collector J. Tomilson Hill, whose collection of Renaissance and Baroque bronzes are currently on view at the Frick (through Sunday), has just become a billionaire. His new status, as per Bloomberg, is due in part to the value of his art.

A well-known Wall Street deal maker in the 1980s whose tactics in the bidding war for the takeover of RJR Nabisco garnered him mention in the book Barbarians at the Gate, Hill is now the vice chairman of the Blackstone Group, the world’s largest private equity firm, and runs the company’s $58 billion in assets. According to filings with the SEC, he owns 17.4 million shares of the company, which as of yesterday, was valued at $585 million.

The art collection that he and his wife Janine have been building over several decades, is apparently, almost on par with his stake in the company. It includes not only the bronzes (there are over 100), but also works by Christopher Wool, Francis Bacon, and Andy Warhol (he owns 25 works by Warhol). As per various art appraisal experts Bloomberg hit up, the collection is valued at over $500 million.

Though Hill has declined to comment on his net worth, he has revealed a thing or two about his collecting strategy. “I don’t think many people 30 years ago were trying to put together works from different periods and mediums,” he told Art + Auction in January. “It’s a more recent phenomenon. Can you put bronzes, post–World War II artists, and Old Masters together in a dialogue?”

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