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The 15 Most Interesting Private Art Collections From Around The World in 2024

Many art masterpieces are hidden from public view, and privately owned by the wealthiest of collectors. From the modest beginnings of collectors of Dorothy and Herbert Vogel to the edgy Rubell Family Collection housed in a former Drug Enforcement Agency storage site in Miami, these private collections are observed by a select few. We have researched on a global scale to present you with the top 15 most interesting collections.

damien hirst The Physical Impossibility of Death in the Mind

1. Dorothy and Herbert Vogel

Location: New York, America

Collection includes: Roy Lichtenstein, Cindy Sherman, Lorna Simpson, Richard Tuttle, Carl Andre

picture of Dorothy and Herbert Vogel in their home

Dorothy and Herbert have created a world class art collection, but what makes each piece so special is how it was assembled through modest means. The Vogel's devotion has brought them considerable admiration and international acclaim from the art community.

Both were civil servants - Dorothy a librarian and Herbert a postal clerk the couple prioritised collecting art over holidays, and other non-essentials. Herbert's salary was used to buy art, and Dorothy's for daily expenses. With personal ties to Christo and Jeanne-Claude, the Vogel's cat-sat for the pair, which gained them discounted rates on their art. Together, the pair assembled art from 1960 to 1992, accumulating over 4000 objects, consisting mainly of drawings by renowned artists, which they donated to the National Gallery of Art, in Washington, DC.

They went onto start a new collection in 2008 and with a collection of 2500 pieces, they formed project '50 x 50'. The concept of which includes 50 artworks from the Vogel Collection in each of the 50 states.

2. Niarchos Family Collection

Location: Athens, Greece

Collection includes: Vincent Van Gogh, Paul Gauguin, Henri Matisse, Jean Michel Basquiat and Andy Warhol

Self-portrait with a Bandaged Ear by Van Gogh

The Niarchos' family collection is one of the most important Impressionist and Modern Art collections, currently inherited by Stavros Niarchos’ son, Phillipe Niarchos. Among the works in the collection, include three masterworks by Van Gogh including Self-portrait with a Bandaged Ear and, arguably, the most important work by Pablo Picasso, the self-portrait Yo, Picasso.

In recent years, Phillipe Niarchos has completed his family's collection with works by contemporary artists, such as Andy Warhol's Shot Red Marilyn. In 2007, Niarchos reportedly spent $17 million for Warhol’s Green Burning Car I, a record auction price for a work by the artist at the time. Interestingly, Andy Warhol’s 1985 Skull paintings are based on silkscreens made from CAT scans of Philip Niarchos’ head, who commissioned Warhol to paint his portrait.

3. Eli and Edyth Broad

Location: Los Angeles, America

Collection includes: Andy Warhol, Jeff Koons, Robert Rauschenberg, Roy Lichtenstein, Jasper Johns, William Kentridge, Keith Haring, Barbara Kruger, Jean-Michel Basquiat

artwork in the private collection of Eli and Edyth Broad

Often referred to as one of the leading collections of contemporary art, the Broads accumulated more than 2,000 pieces by more than 200 artists. Their collection is comprised of two genres, the first focusing on post-war and contemporary art—a personal collection with nearly 600 works and the Broad Art Foundation's collection, with approximately 1,500 works. The collection features in-depth holdings of influential contemporary artists such as Jean-Michel Basquiat, Mark Bradford, Jasper Johns and Jeff Koons.

Known for their selflessness, the Broads began a mission to share their love of art with the world by founding the Broad Art Foundation in 1984 to arrange loans of their art. Over the years they have made a large volume of donations to the arts, including a donation of $60 million to the Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA) in the mid-2000s to fund a new contemporary art building and more recently, displaying many of their works at The Broad Museum in Los Angeles since 2015.

4. David and Ezra Nahmad

Location: Monte Carlo, Monaco and New York, USA

Collection includes: Claude Monet, Henri Matisse, Pablo Picasso, Auguste Renoir, Mark Rothko

artwork in the private art collection of David and Ezra Nahmad

The controversial yet international mega dealers of modern and impressionist art are the Nahmad brothers, David and Ezra, from Monaco. The two are estimated to have an inventory worth $3.5 billion which they store in a duty-free warehouse in Geneva, Switzerland.

Ironically, the pair are said to not be massive art lovers, even with a collection of Picasso's rumoured to be worth $900 million. Most of the art they collect is traded at auction, which has caused a stir in the art community as the pair drive up the price of each artwork by storing the work away for months before auction.

artwork in the private art collection of David and Ezra Nahmad

5. Swizz Beatz & Alicia Keys

Location: New Jersey, USA

Collection includes: Tschabalala Self, Lynette Yiadom-Boakye, Derrick Adams, Jordan Casteel

artwork collected in the private art collection of Swizz Beatz & Alicia Keys

Music impresario Kasseem Dean, known as Swizz Beatz and his wife, musician Alicia Keys, are two collectors with an increasingly large art-world footprint. Both patrons of the arts, they launched their non-profit, The Dean Collection, which supports emerging artists like Carlita Lopez, a Bronx-based photographer. They are deeply committed to highlighting the works of contemporary African American artists including Henry Taylor, Derrick Adams, Cy Gavin, Arthur Jafa, Deana Lawson, and Tajh Rust.

6. Lee Kun-Hee

Location: Seoul, South Korea

Collection includes: Claude Monet, Pablo Picasso, Marc Chagall

artwork in the private art collection of artwork collected in the private art collection of Lee Kun-Hee

Samsung's late chairman Lee Kun-Hee, was one of the richest and most controversial people in the nation, twice convicted on tax-and-corruption related charges. The collection sparked debate following his death in 2020, whereby his heirs were facing the highest estate-tax bill in the country’s history, in total paid around $11 billion. They decided to donate 23,000 pieces from the immense collection holdings to seven South Korean museums - thus avoiding taxes on the gifted works.

Pieces include iconic Korean paintings such as Inwangjesaekdo (Scene of Mount Inwang After Rain) by Jeong Seon and paintings by big names in the Western art world, such as Claude Monet and Salvador Dali.

7. Sheikh Hassan bin Mohamed bin Ali Al Thani

Location: Doha, Qatar

Collection includes: Ahmed Cherkaoui, Mohammed Melehi, Gebran Tarazi & Nejib Belkhodja.

artwork in the private art collection of Sheikh Hassan bin Mohamed bin Ali Al Thani

Based in Qatar, the Mathaf Arab Museum of Modern Art was founded by Sheikh Hassan bin Mohamed bin Ali Al Thani, who started collecting modern Arab art some 20 years ago. The Sheikh is listed as one of the top 10 collectors of contemporary art in the world — buying more major works than anyone else last year. The museum, which opened in 2010 in a former school in Doha that was redesigned by French architect Jean-François Bodin, features art from the 1840s to the present from every Arab country.

artwork in the private art collection of Sheikh Hassan bin Mohamed bin Ali Al Thani

8. Sir Elton John

Location: Various - Previous displays at the Tate Modern, London

Artists include: Brassai, Imogen Cunningham, André Kertész, Dorothea Lange, Tina Modotti, and Aleksandr Rodchenko

artwork in the private art collection of Sir Elton John

In Eltons words, he says, he is not "an art trophy collector", instead he buys what he loves and, since 1991, what he loves most is photography. His catalog of paintings, sculptures, and glass works, among other art objects, is so extensive that a special curator manages the archive.

Featured works of 300 or so modernist works from his display at Tate Modern in an exhibition called the 'Radical Eye' - includes iconic images by masters of the medium such as Man Ray, Edward Weston, and Edward Steichen.

artwork in the private art collection of Sir Elton John

9. Steven Martin

Location: USA

Artists included: Eric Fischl, Cindy Sherman, Roy Lichtenstein and Edward Hopper

artwork in the private art collection of Steven Martin

The Hollywood actor and comedian owns a host of art, labelled as heavily figurative and relatively conservative. With his collection beginning at the young age of 21, his first painting dates back to the 19th century, including American artist James Gale Tyler. He has since become a collector of European masters, such as Pablo Picasso, Georges Seurat, Francis Bacon and Lucien Freud.

Steve first debuted his private collection in 2001 at the Bellagio Hotel in Las Vegas in the early 2000s. More recently, he has shifted his collecting focuses to works made beginning in the 1970s by contemporary Indigenous Australian artists. With his wife Anne Stringfield, he has bought works by Bill Whiskey Tjapaltjarri, Timo Hogan, Carlene West and Warlimpirrnga Tjapaltjarri.

artwork in the private art collection of Steven Martin

10. Paul Allen

Location: Various (inc. Christies, Seattle Art Museum)

Artists included: David Hockney, Georgia O'Keeffe, Edward Hopper, Georges Seurat, Paul Cézanne, Vincent Van Gogh, Paul Gauguin and Gustav Klimt

artwork in the private art collection of Paul Allen

The private collection of late Microsoft co-founder fetched over $1.6 billion and became the largest single-owner sale in auction history. Some artworks sold for over $100 million across a record-shattering two nights at Christie's in New York. The collection was curated over 26 years, including artworks dating within a 500-year range like Botticelli to contemporary artist McArthur Binion. He was especially drawn to landscapes and paintings of Venice.

In addition to Botticelli and Binion, there’s a Monet, a Lichtenstein, two Van Goghs, four Calders, five Picassos, six Jasper Johns and a Seurat. Allen’s collection contains three works estimated at $100 million or more.

artwork in the private art collection of Paul Allen

11. Beyonce and Jay Z

Location: California, USA

Artists included: Damien Hirst, Andy Warhol, Richard Prince, David Hammons, and Jean-Michel Basquiat

artwork in the private art collection of Beyonce and Jay Z

The power-duo are known for their passion for the arts. So much so, that between collecting, they visit art fairs and shut down whole museums for private viewings.

The family’s private art collection is said to include works by masters like Damien Hirst, Andy Warhol, Richard Prince, David Hammons, and Jean-Michel Basquiat alongside younger, up-and-coming artists. In fact, they had two Damien Hirst paintings commissioned just for them. One of the most famous artworks in Jay-Z's collection is a painting by Jean-Michel Basquiat called Mecca considered to be one of Basquiat's most iconic works.

artwork in the private art collection of Beyonce and Jay Z

12. Steve Cohen

Location: Greenwich (Connecticut), Stamford, New York and London.

Artists included: Pablo Picasso, Jasper Johns and Peter Doig.

artwork in the private art collection of Steve Cohen

Steven A. Cohen, an American billionaire businessman and the founder of Point72 Asset Management (a billion-dollar hedge fund management company) and his partner, Alexandra, embarked on their art collecting journey in 2000. They amassed a remarkable assortment of world-class masterpieces by renowned artists such as Willem de Kooning, Andy Warhol, Pablo Picasso, Jasper Johns, Jeff Koons, and Jackson Pollock. Their art collection has been valued at over $1 billion. On acquiring art, Cohen follows his instincts, relying on a gut feeling and immediate connection with a piece.

In 2015, Steven was unveiled as the buyer of Alberto Giacometti's L'Homme au doigt (1947), a masterpiece that fetched one of the highest prices ever at an auction. The Cohen collection also boasts Damien Hirst's iconic artwork, The Physical Impossibility of Death in the Mind of Someone Living (1991), featuring a colossal shark suspended in formaldehyde.

Initially, his purchases focused on Impressionist and Early 20th Century Art, but later focused on Contemporary Art.

artwork in the private art collection of Steve Cohen

13. Leonardo DiCaprio

Location: Private Residences

Artists included: Jean-Michel Basquiat, Oscar Murillo, Salvador Dali, Ed Ruscha

artwork in the private art collection of Leonardo DiCaprio

DiCaprio has a private art collection that includes famous pieces by artists like Jean-Michel Basquiat, Salvador Dalí and Pablo Picasso. In 2011, he bought Dalí's painting Chevalier for $1.2 million, later spent $400,000 on Oscar Murillo's Under the Influence and purchased Nachlass by Jean-Pierre Roy. Some of his collection was displayed at a charity auction called The 11th Hour in 2013. DiCaprio also collects vintage movie posters, fossils, and rare books, including a Torvosaurus skull.

In 2017, DiCaprio made headlines for having to surrender a $3.2 million Picasso and a $9 million Basquiat to the US government. The works were connected to the Malaysia Development Berhad embezzlement scandal. Because the art in question were gifts, DiCaprio was not charged with any crimes or implicated in any wrongdoing.

artwork in the private art collection of Leonardo DiCaprio

14. Guy Wildenstein

Location: Getty Museum, New York

Artists included: Van Gogh, Renoir, Gauguin, Cézanne

artwork in the private art collection of Guy Wildenstein

Wildenstein's collection is considered the best private art collection in the world. Dealers and collectors for many decades, the Wildenstein family has amassed a fabled art collection valued by several sources at $10 billion. It is said that this "Eldorado of the Arts" could exhibit several masterpieces by some of the most important artists from the 14th to the 20th centuries, such as Van Gogh, Renoir, Gauguin, Cézanne, and Monet. Recently rediscovered in the collection was Madonna and Child with Saints and The Seven Virtues by Giotto di Bondone, or even a work by Vermeer still unknown by critics.

Currently, the family owns private art collections in New York, Tokyo, and Paris, where the prestigious Wildenstein Institute is based. This institute creates detailed catalogues raisonnés for renowned Impressionist artists. These catalogues are highly regarded, and artworks without a "Wildenstein index number," such as pieces by Monet and Gauguin, could significantly decrease in value.

artwork in the private art collection of Guy Wildenstein

15. David Geffen

Location: Private Residences and LACMA, Los Angeles (opening 2023)

Artists included: Mark Rothko, Jackson Pollock, Willem De Kooning, Jasper Johns, Robert Rauschenberg

artwork in the private art collection of David Geffen

Entertainment tycoon David Geffen is renowned for his art collection, which includes works by postwar master artists like Mark Rothko and Jackson Pollock. The art collection is worth around a third of his personal net worth. While his net worth is estimated to be $10.1 billion as of October 2021, he is known for making significant deals on major artworks. For instance, he sold a de Kooning and a Pollock to fellow collector Kenneth C. Griffin for a staggering half a billion dollars in 2016. Notably, he set a record for the most expensive painting ever sold when he sold Pollock's No. 5, 1948, for $140 million to Mexican financier David Martinez, who is also a prominent art collector.

Despite owning some of the most valuable mid-century American artworks, Geffen rarely loans his collection to art institutions, so its exact content and scale remain somewhat unknown. However, in recent years, he has revealed more details about his artistic preferences, favourite artists, and collecting approach to the public.

artwork in the private art collection of David Geffen

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