World’s Private Art Collection: Who Owns One or Two?

Ever wondered who owns the biggest private art collection in the world?

It’s not just one but several art collectors who can afford to buy the most expensive art pieces available. Unlike artworks in galleries and museums, private art collections are often only for the selected few who are allowed to observe them.

For billionaires, buying art is a hobby of the most exclusive and highly expensive variety.

Why do they buy art exactly?

It’s not just for the passion and love for the arts but the investment benefits that come with them.

Artworks are considered the most reliable and stable kind of investment, providing the ticket to financial heaven.

This is why many say that art is only for the rich and elite. After all, you have to have an extra billion dollars to start your own private collection.

World’s Top Private Art Collectors

Steve Cohen

His incredible collection has made him one of the most prestigious private art collectors. Spending millions of dollars with every acquisition, he definitely deserves the label.

Some of the pieces he owns include:

  • Damien Hirst’s The Physical Impossibility of Death in the Mind of Someone Living
  • Gauguin’s Bathers
  • Jackson Pollock’s drip painting (one of)
  • Munch’s Madonna
  • Willem de Kooning’s Police Gazette
  • Willem de Kooning’s Woman III

Poju and Anita Zabludowicz

Their collection of artworks has reached 5000 from 500 artists.

Slowly accumulating them since 1990, they definitely have the time and resources to collect as many masterpieces as possible.

The collection can be viewed in 3 different locations.

Poju and Anita Zabludowicz also organized an artist residency program and plans to open a contemporary art museum that will be privately funded.

François Pinault

The French billionaire has been collecting art for more than 30 years, accumulating almost 2,500 works in the contemporary and modern spheres. His collection has an estimated value of $1.4 billion and includes the work of Damien Hirst, Jeff Koons, Lucio Fontana, and Mark Rothko.

As the owner of Kering, the holding company for Gucci, Alexander McQueen, and other luxury goods, and the Christie’s auction house, he should have no problem snapping expensive artworks and setting them up in his own museum.

If you’re interested to see what Pinault has collected over the years, just head out to Venice, particularly at the Palazzo Grassi.

Pinault collaborated with Japanese architect Tadao Ando for the design of his two private museums.

Ezra and David Nahmad

They hold the most valuable collection in the world, estimated at over $3 billion. The brothers own Leonardo da Vinci’s oil paintings, the Etruscan sarcophagus pieces, and other older artworks. They also own works by Pablo Picasso, Vincent Van Gogh, Amedeo Modigliani, and Gustav Klimt.

Their secret?

Buy plenty of artworks and sell them for a higher price later.

The strategy is nothing new in the art market, but it has been known to cause problems once in a while.

In the art world, price tags are rarely fixed, and dealers tend to mark up the price when they sell artworks. Some of them could be as bad as Yves Bouvier who conned art of a total profit margin of billions.

Since these brothers aren’t facing allegations of art fraud, their dealings must be cleaner.

Eli and Edythe Broad

Their private art collection is valued at $2.2 billion and is known as the world’s best collection of contemporary art.

Unlike other private collectors, however, most of the nearly 2000 works in their collection are available for public viewing at The Broad Museum in L.A.

It includes the works by:

  • Andy Warhol
  • Cy Twombly
  • Edward Ruscha
  • Jasper Johns
  • Joseph Beuys
  • Robert Rauschenberg
  • Roy Lichtenstein

Philip Niarchos

He inherited his private art collection from his father, Greek shipping magnate Niarchos Sr. who died in 1996. It was rumored that there was a stockpile of Van Gogh works included, the largest in the world.

The collection is now estimated at $2.2 billion, two decades after the death of his father.

Lee Byung-chull

The Korean government defines his private art collection as filled with national treasures. His collection of Korean art is considered the country’s largest.

After his death, his estate was opened to the public for tours in his private art museum.

There are plenty of other private art collectors out there and the list can change in a year. Someone could be making an extra effort to expand their collection, accumulating more than others.

Whatever is the case, these collectors are proof that art is a good investment. And if you want to be in the business of buying and selling, art is one way to go about it. You just need to have a great eye for fine art and good connections in the art world.