What would you do if you can buy anything you want? For the billionaires who can, they buy expensive art. If you ask a curator how much every artwork in museums cost, you would probably get one word for an answer: priceless. But for 1% of the world’s population, nothing is ever priceless, especially when it comes to good art. These are five billionaires who won’t mind paying whatever it takes to own their favorite piece of art:
J. Tomilson Hill
Wall Street billionaire J. Tomilson Hill has an art collection that can rival those you see in museums. He is not only known to have a keen eye on good art pieces including those from De Kooning and Picasso, but he is also a sharp hunter for paintings that have good investment value. In fact, he bought one of Andy Warhol’s “soup can” paintings for $340,000 in 1996 and now, it’s worth over $9 million. In fact, he recently unveiled his private cultural center in Manhattan’s Chelsea neighborhood called the Hill Art Foundation where visitors can see his impressive art collection that includes Old Master paintings, Renaissance bronzes and post World War II art, all accumulated in four decades of passionate art collecting. Hill said he dreamed of having this gallery for a long time but haven’t found the perfect place for it. So when he heard that a steel and glass geometric tower will be built in Chelsea, he knew that it was the right home for his collection.
When it comes to billionaire art collectors, no other name is probably more controversial than Russian billionaire Dmitry Rybolovlev. The oligarch has always been on the world’s list of top art collectors, but he first made headlines when he sold Leonardo da Vinci’s “Salvator Mundi” painting for a staggering $450.3 million at an auction at Christie’s in New York. This was the highest value ever paid for an artwork at an auction. Rybolovlev has an impressive collection that includes pieces from Matisse, Picasso and Rothko. But what really made him popular among the art world was his legal battle with Swiss art dealer Yves Bouvier whom he said defrauded him by selling artworks that were improperly inflated. Rybolovlev said that he paid $118 million for a Modigliani painting that Steven A. Cohen only sold for $93.5 million.
Living the life of self-made billionaire and philanthropist Morton Mandel means eating breakfast while looking at Woman IV, a painting by Roy Lichtensein in 1982. You also get to see Untitled VI, a painting by Willem de Kooning nearby. Mandel and his wife Barbara have been collecting art since 1975 and they’ve accumulated quite a number of art pieces from artists like Andy Warhol, David Smith, Pablo Picasso, Jean Dubuffet and Donald Judd.
Danaher billionaire Mitchell Rales share a love for collecting art with his wife Emily Rei Rales, and their Glenstone private museum is proof of it. The couple has amassed over 800 works of art from some of the greatest names in modern and contemporary art including Henri Matisse, Brice Marden, Robert Rauschenberg, Willem de Kooning and Jackson Pollock. Upon entering the massive 200-acre estate in Maryland, you will be welcomed by a huge sculpture by Jeff Koons named the “Split-Rocker,” which is a head decorated with 50,000 live flowering plants.
When you’re the owner of a celebrated auction house like Christie’s in New York, being an avid collector will definitely come natural to you. Such is the case for Francois Pinault who owns more than 3,000 works of art from the twentieth and twenty-first centuries worth more than $1 billion, most of which he sourced directly from their artists. Pinault’s collection is housed in two museums in Venice, the Palazzo Grassi and Punta della Dogana. By 2020, Pinault’s new museum will be inaugurated at the Bourse de Commerce in Paris.
While a lot of people think that billionaires spend their money on shopping, they are actually smarter when it comes to where they invest their money, even if they have an unlimited budget to work with. Billionaires invest in assets that don’t only interest them but also bring good value to their business. Artwork is definitely one of the most valuable assets that anyone can have because it can easily increase in value, especially with the growing population of billionaires and the increased curiosity for fine art even from millionaires. But for these five billionaires, buying art is more than just flaunting their wealth by decorating their homes with one-of-a-kind art pieces. It is also a way for them to express themselves and appreciate real beauty despite their often chaotic world.