The top 5 most valuable privately held art collections in the world are worth a staggering $11 billion. Some of these collections are hidden away. But many of these billionaires have a true passion for art and give generously through their foundations to museums and art galleries and allow their masterpiece collections to be seen and admired by the public.
David & Ezra Nahmad – Estimated Collection Value: $3 Billion
The world’s most valuable collection of art is held jointly by brothers David and Ezra Nahmad. They are not so much collectors as they are art dealers as these brothers buy and sell their artwork primarily at auction. They store their collection, an estimated 5,000 pieces in a warehouse in Geneva. A major portion of their collection is around 300 Picassos with an estimated value of nearly $1 billion. David and Ezra each have sons named Helly, and each son runs a Helly Nahmad Art Gallery. One is in Manhattan and the other is in London. The artwork that the sons own is not a part of David & Ezra’s holdings.
David Geffen – $2.3 Billion
David Geffen has an estimated net worth of $7.1 billion. He made his fortune in the music and entertainment industry. He founded Asylum Records and Geffen Records whose notable names include Aerosmith and The Eagles. He later co-founded Dreamworks with Steven Spielberg.
Geffen’s art collection focuses on midcentury American artwork. The most notable artist in his collection is Jackson Pollock. Geffen is not only an art collector but an art philanthropist as well. In the last 2 years, Geffen has made contributions of $100 million each to the Museum of Modern Art in New York City and the Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts.
Eli Broad – $2.2 Billion
Eli and his wife Edythe opened the doors to the Broad Los Angeles Art Museum in 2015. Offering free access to 2,000 pieces of their collection allowed over 500,000 visitors to enjoy the artwork in the first year. The foundation oversees and manages the 5,000 pieces of artwork the Broads have collected over the years.
Philip Niarchos – $2.2 Billion
The source of the art collection owned by Philip Niarchos is a fascinating tale. The bulk of the collection was purchased from actor Edward Robinson in 1957 for only $3 million. The sale was to fund Robinson’s divorce. Since 1957 Niarchos has added to the collection considerably and is now possibly the largest collection of Van Goghs in the world.
Francois Pinault – $1.4 Billion
With an estimated net worth of $16 billion, Francois Pinault and family have the distinction of being the wealthiest on this list. The family created the fortune came from their ownership of luxury design houses Gucci, Stella McCartney, Alexander McQueen and Yves Saint Laurent.
The Francois Pinault Foundation owns and operates two contemporary art museums located in Venice. The Palazzo Grassi and Punta Della Dogana’s aim is to share the beautiful Pinault collection publicly and through education provide the keys to reading and understanding the language of contemporary art. The Pinault’s entire collection is available for public viewing and is loaned out to Art Museums and galleries around the world.