Our Crowd

record (setting) collectors. part 6: eli broad

Wednesday, June 1, 2011
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From the pages of AVENUE’s May issue…

Secrets from inside the collections of the biggest contemporary art enthusiasts in the picture

By Lorinda Ash

New York is the center of the contemporary art world, overrun with collectors, artists, galleries, private dealers, advisors, framers, shippers, writers, magazines and auction houses. No longer the secret hobby of a wealthy elite, collecting contemporary has gone mainstream. From Park Avenue to Park Slope, with budgets limitless and limited, people are now interested in buying art both for pleasure and investment. But no matter how widespread the pursuit, there remains a handful of choice collectors whose opinions, purchases, institutional support and trend-setting savoir faire influence what others buy and sell. Their homes could be mistaken for galleries or museums, and their calendars are filled with the biggest openings and benefits in the city. Everyone from gallerists to dealers is vying to have their ear because not just anyone has their eye. These are New York’s most wanted collectors.

Eli Broad
With an art-filled home in Brentwood, L.A., a Richard Meier-designed Malibu beach house and a New York pied-a-terre at the Sherry Netherland, billionaire businessman and philanthropist Eli Broad is a national collecting force. Broad has been called Los Angeles’ most significant arts patron, and his resume boasts intimate involvment in the founding of The Museum of Contemporary Art (MOCA), The Broad Contemporary Art Museum at LACMA, Frank Gehry’s Walt Disney Concert Hall, the revitalization of downtown Los Angeles and the Claremont Colleges, to name a few projects. Broad has recently begun work on the building of his own Contemporary Museum in Los Angeles, which he expects to be the crowning achievement of his lifetime as an arts patron and collector. Although he and his foundation have purchased more than 2,000 works of art, Broad has no trouble picking out his favorites: Jeff Koons’ Rabbit and Michael Jackson and Bubbles. “I never thought they would be worth as much as they are today,” he says with a laugh. When asked which undiscovered artists he bought early in their careers, Broad cites Jean-Michel Basquiat, Jeff Koons and Cindy Sherman (The Broad Foundation houses the world’s largest collection of her photographs). He also owns the single largest personal collection of the late, great Roy Lichtenstein. Broad’s favorite dealers include Gagosian, Zwirner and Wirth, Matthew Marks and Metro Pictures. But in the end, the Broads make their own decisions, as they have over a lifetime of art collecting.
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