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Richest Artwork Collectors within the World: Bernard Arnault, Philip Niarchos and Different Billionaires

Richest Artwork Collectors within the World: Bernard Arnault, Philip Niarchos and Different Billionaires

Art collectors play a significant role in shaping the cultural narrative of art. Apart from investing lavishly in collections, they also shape the market for the rarest of art forms. Art is subjective and those who have a keen eye for it can truly appreciate masterpieces. Some of the world’s most influential billionaires have proven their capability to appreciate priceless works. Since a significant fortune is key to obtaining such cultural stewardship, billionaires around the globe prominently feature on the world’s richest art collectors list.

Apart from billionaires, several Hollywood celebrities also possess extensive art collections. Beyoncé and Jay-Z‘s art collection, for example, is believed to be particularly extravagant. The couple also actively support emerging artists and marginalised voices in the art world. According to reports, their vast collection includes works of popular artists such as Andy Warhol, Richard Prince and Tim Noble.

Similarly, Leonardo DiCaprio is yet another Hollywood star with a passion for art. According to Far Out magazine, the Oscar-winning actor’s collection includes a small drawing from 1939 by Pablo Picasso and also works such as Takashi Murakami’s Mononoke.

When it comes to the world’s richest art collectors, though, the top names that make the list are tycoons such as Francois Pinault, Bernard Arnault and more.

A look at the world’s richest art collectors

Bernard Arnault

Net worth: USD 221.5 billion

Art collection value: Unknown

In 2024, Bernard Arnault retained his spot as the richest person in the world with a net worth of USD 221.5 billion as per Forbes. The renowned chairman and CEO of luxury conglomerate LVMH Moët Hennessy Louis Vuitton is also the richest man in Europe. Harbouring two great loves, business and art, Arnault has made a significant contribution to both.

From making the billionaires list for the first time in 1997 with a fortune of USD 3.1 billion, to multiplying it by building LVMH into a powerhouse, Arnault’s fortune is a testament to his sharp business sense.

World's richest art collectors
An exhibition dedicated to artist Mark Rothko was held at the LVMH Foundation gallery last October. (Image:: Foundation LVMH/Instagram)

While the exact value of his art collection is unknown, Arnault owns modernist and contemporary works that are valued well above hundreds of millions. Works by artists like Jean-Michel Basquiat, Jeff Koons, and Damien Hirst are part of his private art collection. The Frenchman has also collected masterpieces of French artists like Philippe Parreno and Bertrand Lavier. Much like every art collector’s dream, Arnault also owns iconic pieces of art belonging to Andy Warhol, Yves Klein, and Pablo Picasso.

Bernard Arnault’s collaboration with artists

Apart from owning art worth millions, Arnault has also worked with artists for his high-end brands. His past collaborations include Takashi Murakami, who designed highly coveted handbags for Louis Vuitton for 13 years and ended their partnership in 2022. Jeff Koons also created a special-edition packaging for Dom Perignon.

Arnault’s contribution to the art world also includes philanthropic endeavours like sponsoring art installations and exhibitions. He also founded the Louis Vuitton Foundation, a Frank Gehry-designed contemporary art museum in Paris.

Francois Pinault

Net worth: USD 31.6 billion

Art collection value: Approximately USD 1.4 billion

Every art enthusiast is familiar with French billionaire Francois Pinault’s enviable collection which is estimated to be worth billions. Pinault ranks 54th on the Forbes billionaires list with a net worth of USD 31.6 billion and has been an art collector for over 30 years.

Pinnault, who founded Kering in 1963, moved into luxury goods and bought a controlling stake in Gucci Group in 1999. Currently, his son, François-Henri, runs the company, including Gucci, Balenciaga, Bottega Veneta, Yves Saint Laurent, Creed, and Alexander McQueen.

Richest art collectors in the world
Works of Andy Warhol and other famous artists are a part of Francois Pinault’s collection. (Image: JF Molliere/Pinault Collection)

Pinnault’s massive fortune has led him to amass an art collection that encompasses various mediums of paintings and installations. He has a collection of over 500 pieces and some of them are displayed in the Pinault Collection at the Palazzo Grassi in Venice. The French billionaire funded two art museums in Venice – the Punta della Dogana and the Palazzo Grassi which house his treasured art collection.

Famous names in Pinnault’s private collection include Damien Hirst, Cindy Sherman, Pablo Picasso and Willem de Kooning. The art connoisseur made one of his biggest bids in 1990 worth USD 8.8 million for Piet Mondrian’s Tableau Losangique II at Christie’s.

Ezra and David Nahmad

Net worth: Ezra Nahmad – USD 1.8 billion, David Nahmad – USD 2.3 billion

Art collection value: USD 3.5 billion

David Nahmad and other richest art collectors
David Nahmad boasts of a valuable art collection which includes the works of Monet, Matisse and also Renoir. (Image: Bertrand Rindoff Petroff/Getty Images)

The Nahmad brothers are renowned for having one of the most valuable art collections in the world. The billionaire siblings are mega dealers of modern and impressionist art. According to Forbes, the two own an inventory worth an estimated USD 3.5 billion which is stored in a warehouse in Geneva, Switzerland. The Nahmad brothers have been working in the art world since the 1960s. Their collection includes treasured works of Monet, Matisse and also Renoir.

They also have the most extensive private collection of Picasso‘s paintings (an estimated 300 works) which is valued at reportedly USD 1 billion. These valuable art assets are divided equally between the two brothers. The Nahmad family plays a significant role in the art world and their upcoming generations have also sealed their positions strongly in the field. While David’s son Hillel runs the Helly Nahmad Gallery in Manhattan, Ezra’s sons operate art galleries in London.

Steve Cohen

Net worth: USD 19.8 billion

Art collection value: Approximately USD 1 billion

Billionaire Steve Cohen has built a massive fortune through Point72 Asset Management, a USD 30.6 billion hedge fund firm. Over the years, Cohen has spent his staggering net worth on several passion projects ranging from sports to art. He bought the New York Mets in 2020 for USD 2.4 billion, the highest sale price ever for an MLB team. His private art collection is also regarded as one of the most valuable in the world.

The billionaire and his wife Alexandra Cohen began investing in famous artworks in 2020 and their collection spans paintings, sculptures, as well as other forms of visual art.

Cohen’s collection includes remarkable works of celebrated artists such as Pablo Picasso, Peter Doig Jackson Pollock, Jasper Johns, and Andy Warhol. He reportedly paid USD 55 million for Picasso’s Le Rêve. Another example of his massive splurge to acquire exquisite art includes the whopping USD 52 million purchase of a Jackson Pollock drip painting. As per Bloomberg, in 2019 Cohen acquired Jeff Koons’s rabbit sculpture for a staggering USD 91.1 million.

David Geffen

Net worth: USD 8 billion

Art collection value:  USD 2.3 billion

David Geffen’s passion for art is reflected in his 2017 gesture when he pledged USD 150 million to the Los Angeles County Museum of Art. It is considered to be one of the largest gifts in the museum’s history. He is the founder of record labels Asylum Records, Geffen Records and DGC Records, as well as film studio DreamWorks. Having built a net worth of USD 8 billion (as per Forbes), Geffen has spent an extensive amount of it on building his private art collection.

He has acquired an impressive contemporary collection, with famous works from renowned artists such as Jasper Johns, De Kooning and Jackson Pollock. Over the years, Geffen has built quite a reputation as a prominent and one of the richest art collectors in the world.

Charles Saatchi

Net worth: USD 2 billion

Art collection value: Unknown

Charles Saatchi and more billionaire art collectors
The Saatchi Gallery in London features several works of Andy Warhol and other artists acquired by Charles Saatchi. (Image: Charles Saatchi Collection)

Billionaire Charles Saatchi is the founder of Saatchi Gallery in London which is known to host contemporary art exhibitions. It also supports emerging artists to showcase their work. Apart from being the co-founder of the ad agency Saatchi & Saatchi, the billionaire also made a name for himself by helping young British artists and making the works of Damien Hirst and Tracey Emin famous. His private collection included the likes of Andy Warhol, Anselm Kiefer and Donald Judd. The billionaire donated nearly 200 of the artworks previously owned by him for public viewing which are housed at the Saatchi Gallery in London.

Philip Niarchos

Net worth: USD 2.8 billion

Art collection value: Approximately USD 2 billion

Philip Niarchos is the son of Greek shipping magnate Stavros Niarchos and it is through his father that he inherited a vast collection of prestigious artworks. Among the first works that were a part of the collection were purchased in 1957 for USD 3 million from actor Edward G. Robinson. As per Forbes, it included reputed works such as Van Gogh‘s self-portrait, and Picasso’s iconic Yo, Picasso. Further expanding his father’s private collection, Phillip added more contemporary works including pieces by Maurizio Cattelan. He also invested in Andy Warhol’s Marilyn Red and Green Burning Car I (1963).

Roman Abramovich

Net worth: USD 9.7 billion

Art collection value: Approximately USD 1 billion

Roman Abramovich, a Russian oligarch with an estimated net worth of USD 9.7 billion as of 2024, acquired his vast fortune through steel and mining operations. Following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, he has been sanctioned by the U.K., EU, Canada, Australia and Switzerland. Before reports of his close ties with the Russian President were revealed, Abramovich enjoyed a luxurious life which included owning a vast number of assets such as superyachts, private jets and also a football team. After the UK government froze his assets, his team Chelsea FC was sold for nearly USD 5 billion in May 2022.

An investigation by The Guardian into the Russian oligarch’s business also revealed details of his USD 1 billion worth art collection. Including over 300 works, Abramovich’s collection consisted of La Liseuse by Pablo Picasso and also the works of Marc Chagall and Francis Bacon. He reportedly also paid a whopping USD 33.6 million for Lucian Freud’s Benefits Supervisor Sleeping.

Carlos Slim

Net worth: USD 102.9 billion

See Also

Art collection value: Approximately USD 100 million

Billionaire art collectors in the world
A part of Carlos Slim’s art collection is housed at the Museo Soumaya, an art museum he founded in Mexico City. (Image: Museo Soumaya/Facebook)

Carlos Slim is the richest man in Mexico with a net worth of USD 102.9 billion. The Slim family has built their fortune through América Móvil, Latin America’s biggest mobile telecom firm. The Mexican billionaire also holds stakes in other publicly traded companies, including The New York Times. Unlike other billionaires who have a taste for luxury yachts and cars, Slim is known to splurge on two things: Cuban cigars and art collecting. Apart from owning a massive art collection, he also opened the Museo Soumaya, a nonprofit art museum in Mexico City which allows free admission to visitors.

In Slim’s collection, the most valuable piece is believed to be a painting from Leonardo da Vinci’s studio. Famous impressionist paintings by the likes of Monet, Cezanne, Degas and Van Gogh are also among his collections. Museo Soumaya also houses the works of Mexican artists such as Diego Rivera and Rufino Tamayo.

Sheikh Hamad bin Jassim bin Jaber Al Thani

Net worth: USD 2 billion

Art collection value: Unknown

Sheikh Hamad bin Jassim bin Al Thani is a member of Qatar’s royal family and formerly served as the country’s prime minister. While stories of the Al Thani family’s riches are well-known, it is worth noting that Sheikh is also famed for his extensive art collection. One of the most significant purchases by the former Prime Minister of Qatar is Picasso’s renowned masterpiece, The Women of Algiers (Version O). He bought the iconic painting at a Christie’s auction for an astonishing USD 180 million.

Along with his older brother, Hassan bin Mohamed bin Ali Al Thani, the royal family owns extensive collections of modern art. They have also acquired masterpieces such as Paul Cézanne’s The Card Players valued at USD 250 million and Andy Warhol’s The Men in Her Life at USD 64 million.

Leon Black

Net worth: USD 14.5 billion

Art collection value: USD 1 billion

The co-founder of Apollo Global Management has a massive net worth of USD 14.5 billion as of 2024 according to Forbes. He stepped down as Apollo’s CEO and chairman in 2021 following an investigation that found he paid USD 185 million in fees to Jeffrey Epstein. Black is a famous personality in the art world and in 2012 he made headlines for shelling out a whopping USD 120 million for one of four versions of Edvard Munch’s famous painting The Scream.

His vast collection also includes the works of  Leonardo da Vinci, Edgar Degas, Francisco Goya, Rembrandt, Richard Serra, Henri Matisse, Joan Miro and Pablo Picasso, as per The New York Times.

(Main and featured images: Julien M. Hekimian/Getty Images)

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

– Who has the most expensive painting in the world?

As per The New York Times, Salvator Mundi by Leonardo da Vinci is the most expensive painting in the world. It was bought by Saudi Prince, Bader bin Abdullah bin Mohammed bin Farhan al-Saud.

– Who is the most famous art collector?

There are many famous art collectors around the world, including celebrities like Beyoncé and Jay-Z, and billionaires Bernard Arnault, Francois Pinault and more.

– Why do billionaires collect art?

Apart from being passionate about artists and their works, some billionaire art collectors consider it to be an investment for legacy planning to build a collection of valuable works.

Source: Prestige Online

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