Our Crowd

record (setting) collectors. part 8: Tom Lee and Ann Tenenbaum

Friday, June 3, 2011

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.

Tom Lee and Ann Tenenbaum

Private equity genius Tom Lee and his arts patron wife, Ann Tenenbaum, have an exceptional collection of post-war and contemporary painting and sculpture, along with an exceptional collection of vintage and contemporary photographs. Tenenbaum serves on the Public Design Commission of NYC as the representative and board member of The Metropolitan Museum of Art. She is also on the boards of The Studio Museum in Harlem and The Chairman’s Council of MoMA, amongst others. She and Lee are known to be a very generous, engaging and decisive couple with confidence in their taste. “I only buy what I love and I’m not sentimentally attached to the pieces,” Tenenbaum admits. “My favorites change all the time. Right now it is our Pollock drip painting.” She has few regrets, with the exception of “the Miro constellation we failed to buy at auction a few years ago,” as she ruefully notes. Such failures are few and far between, and the couple has amassed a truly great collection of masterpieces.


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