Who are the world’s Top 10 Collectors and why? New York

July 4, 2011

With nearly 3 million visitors standing in line outside of the Musée d’Orsay in Paris, and Impressionist paintings still selling for astronomical prices, ARTnews issued its 21st annual report on the most active (not to mention the richest) art collectors in the world.

No surprises for Eli and Edythe Broad ranking second best collector, or François Pinault (positioned at number 8) whose collection has dramatically extended Venice’s contemporary art holdings and given the city a new museum.

Some of the reasons for collecting art, ARTnews reports, are: social climbing, the artwork’s increased value overtime, but also “the feelings or sensations [of] visceral rewards, emotional satisfaction, the fact that you can look at the work in your home every day and continue to get renewed pleasure”. A London dealer, Martin Summers, discusses “the recognizability factor” as grounds for purchases of so-called “trophy art” (i.e. iconic examples by modern and contemporary masters such as Warhol and Picasso, and, less conspicuously, by Bacon and Rothko).

But who is the art world’s biggest spender? On the basis of recent acquisitions of Impressionist paintings, and works by Picasso and Bacon, among others, the most votes in an informal survey go to Sheikh Saud bin Mohammad bin Ali al-Thani. He is a member of the Qatar royal family and has been on the list of ARTnews 200 as well as Top Ten Collectors. He has also been buying photography, Islamic and Arabic art, and fine jewelry.

Collectors, dealers, auctioneers, museum directors, curators, and consultants were interviewed in 22 countries for ARTnews‘ best 200 and the Top Ten list. The most intriguing news to emerge from the polls, though, seems to be that the market is resurfacing from the slump of 2008 and 2009. However, it also seems that collectors are spending their money with more consideration. The consensus is that sellers have high expectations and that buyers have become more discerning, making it possible for an altogether new and potentially more diverse art market to emerge in the next half decade.

Find more stories