Five of the Most Famous Art Collectors

Amongst the mega-rich, blue chip art is not only a passion but also a valuable asset and worthy investment. Rather than just being another way the wealthy can spend their cash, trading art is also a great way to grow wealth.

Take a look at some of the most famous art collectors.

Steve Wynn

Estimated Net Worth: $2.9 billion
Nationality: United States
Occupation: Chairman and CEO of Wynn Resorts

As Chairman and CEO of Wynn Resorts, Steve Wynn ‘s estimated net worth is $2.9 billion. During the 1990s, the American business magnate was part of the rapid expansion of the Las Vegas Strip. Now Wynn owns several resorts including the Golden Nugget, The Mirage, Bellagio, Wynn, Encore and Treasure Island.

As an art collector, Wynn has bought and sold some truly impressive pieces, many of which have been publicly displayed at the Bellagio. Some of the most notable pieces in Wynn’s collection have included: Rembrandt’s Portrait of a Man, Half-Length, With His Arms Akimbo, which Wynn bought in 2009 for $33.2 million, J.M.W. Turner’s Giudecca, La Donna Della Salute and San Giorgio bought for $35.8 million in 2006, several paintings by Claude Monet, Van Gogh’s Peasant Woman Against a Background of Wheat bought for $47.5 million in 1997, Edgar DegasDancer Taking a Bow, which Wynn snapped up for $12 million in 1998, Johannes Vermeer’s Young Woman Seated at a Virginal for $30 million in 2004 and Picasso’s Le Rêve bought in 2001 for approximately $60 million.

Steven A. Cohen

Estimated Net Worth: $9.4 billion
Nationality: United States
Occupation: Founder of SAC Capital Advisors

Steve Cohen is the founder of the hedge fund SAC Capital Advisors. He has invested approximately ten percent of his $9.4 billion dollar net wealth in art.

Cohen is highly passionate about art. He owns approximately five percent of Sotheby’s auction house and has adorned the SAC offices with various works of art including Young British Artists Damien Hirst’s The Physical Impossibility of Death in the Mind of Someone Living–a shark suspended in a glass tank –and Marc Quinn’s head sculpture made of blood.

Cohen began collecting art in 2000. Since then he remains one of the highest spending art collectors. Cohen’s art collection has included: Munch’s Madonna bought in 1999 for around $11 million, a Jackson Pollock piece he bought from David Geffen for $52 million, Woman III by Willem de Kooning bought from David Geffen for $158 million and Picasso’s Le Rêve purchased from Steve Wynn for $155 million in 2013, Police Gazette by de Kooning bought for $63.5 million from David Geffen.

David Geffen

Estimated Net Worth: $6 billion
Nationality: United States
Occupation: Co-founder of DreamWorks Animation

David Geffen first found success in the music industry with Asylum Records, Geffen Records and DGC Records before co-founding DreamWorks animation in 1994. Now worth an estimated $6 billion, Geffen holds approximately $1 billion of his net worth in art.

Geffen is a keen collector of post-war American artwork. His collection has included: multiple Willem de Kooning pieces including Woman III and Police Gazette, many Jackson Pollocks such as No. 5, a Mark Rothko artwork, and several Jasper Johns works.

Geffen is one of the smartest art traders on our list. In 2006 he sold de Kooning’s Woman III for $158.8 million and Pollock’s No. 5 for $140 million just before the contemporary art market dropped.

Ronald Lauder

Estimated Net Worth: $3.3 billion
Nationality: United States
Occupation: Former U.S. Ambassador and heir to Estée Lauder

Former U.S. Ambassador to Austria and heir to the cosmetics juggernaut Estée Lauder, Ronald is the son of Estée and Joseph Lauder and reported to have a net worth valued at over $3 billion. Currently, Lauder chairs Clinique Laboratories, an Estée Lauder brand, and manages a strong real estate and media portfolio.

In 2001, Lauder opened the Neue Galerie in New York. The gallery focuses on early 20th century German and Austrian art. As such, Lauder has been instrumental in recovering art seized by Nazi looters during the Second World War.

Lauder’s most impressive piece, which is arguably the centerpiece of the Neue Galerie collection, is Gustav Klimt’s the Portrait of Adele Bloch Bauer I, purchased from Maria Altmann in 2006. Interestingly, the sale occurred shortly after the painting was returned to the Altmann family after years of negotiations with the Austrian government since the painting was stolen from the Altmann family during the Nazi art heists.

Philip S. Niarchos

Estimated Net Worth: $2 billion
Nationality: Greece
Occupation: Heir to Greek shipping magnate Stavros Niarchos

As the eldest son of the Greek shipping magnate Stavros Niarchos, Philip Niarchos inherited much of his father’s fortune after his death including his spectacular art collection.

Stavros Niarchos’ collection includes some of the most important privately held Impressionist and Modern art pieces including: Picasso’s self-portrait Yo, Picasso bought in 1989 for almost $48 million and Vincent van Gogh’s Self-Portrait bought in 1998 for $71.5 million.

Since his father’s death, Philip has added many pieces to the collection including: Jean-Michel Basquait’s 1982 self-portrait bought for $3.3 million and Andy Warhol’s Red Marilyn purchased in 1994 for $3.6 million.

Want to learn more about high-end art? Discover the world’s most expensive paintings. Unsurprisingly, many of the collectors above are frequent traders.