Here’s why plenty of celebrities collect contemporary art

15 May 2019|investment |James Nicholls

Here's why plenty of celebrities collect contemporary art

Celebrity collectors can have an enormous influence on contemporary art investment trends. More than a few emerging names have enjoyed a rise in demand thanks to a famous patron, as this social proof quickly leads other art lovers to invest in their work.

Artnet recently highlighted 15 celebrities who collect contemporary art, and examined the works featured in their collections. Here, we consider what drives their passion to collect, and how we can learn from them.

Championing other artists

Kasseem Dean (Swizz Beatz) and wife musician Alicia Keys collect contemporary art by numerous blue chip artists, but also support emerging artists through their non-profit, The Dean Collection, and highlight the works of aspiring African American contemporary artists.

Beyoncé has also helped several emerging names make their mark on the contemporary art world. She chose Ethiopian-American photographer Awol Erizku to take her Instagram pregnancy-announcement photos, and 23-year-old Tyler Mitchell for a Vogue shoot last year, making him the first African American photographer to shoot the magazine’s cover.

Celebrating their passions

Many celebrities have embraced contemporary art investment alongside their other passions, or even combining them.

Kanye has commissioned both George Condo and Takashi Murakami to create album art, while Justin Bieber looked to Retna to create the designs for his last album release. Jay Z even shared the stage with a huge Jeff Koons-style balloon dog at V Festival in 2017.

Devoted environmentalist Leonardo DiCaprio often hosts auctions to raise funds for his charitable foundation, and John McEnroe now owns his own Manhattan-based gallery.

Earning a place in the art world

Some celebrities collect contemporary art over a number of decades, building enviable collections and gathering knowledge that wins them respect in the art world. Once described as having “an art gallery designed by Austin Powers,” Elton John’s amazing collection of photography was presented to the public as a 2016 exhibition at Tate Modern.

Meanwhile, Swizz Beatz is committed to shaping the future of the contemporary art market. The musician joined the board of the Brooklyn Museum in 2015, has organised a number of exhibitions and initiatives, and is a staunch advocate for artist resale rights.

Enjoying their contemporary art investments

Barbra Streisand is a true passion-driven collector, and revealed that she performed on a recent tour to earn the funds to purchase a Modigliani.

With huge wealth at their disposal, celebrities have the power to influence contemporary art investment trends and drive new markets while pursuing their passions.

Sean Combs, or P Diddy, has done it all, says his son. “What’s left? Collecting art.” Combs paid $21.1 million for Kerry James Marshall’s painting Past Times (1997) at Sotheby’s in 2018, setting a record for the artist at auction. The sale also set the highest price ever for a work by a living African American artist.

Contemporary art assets can grow in value

Naturally, many celebrities also succeed in making contemporary art investments that turn a profit and enable them to continue growing their collections.

Oprah is perhaps best known in the art world for turning a $62 million profit when Gustav Klimt’s full-length portrait went to auction in 2016, and sold for an incredible $150 million.

On a somewhat smaller scale, John McEnroe sold Mark Bradford’s Helter Skelter I (2007) at Phillips in 2018, with the $12 million price tag setting a new artist record.

Collect contemporary art like a star

Maddox Gallery represents a variety of artists, from emerging names to blue chip icons. Whatever your budget, we can provide you with investment-grade art by some of the hottest names in the contemporary art world today. Get in touch or visit us at one of our centrally located galleries to find out more.

Written by James Nicholls, Chairman, Maddox Gallery.

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