When you think of celebrity art collectors you might think of Madonna’s $100 million collection of blue-chip artists or Jay Z boasting about a “Basquiat in my kitchen corner" in his song Picasso Baby. You imagine lavish million-dollar mansions strewn with artworks of a similar value – something only attainable for the super-rich and famous.
But did you know that many of these celebrities with a passion for art started collecting well before they could drop a million $ on a whim? They acquired works by up and coming artists at the very start of their careers, fostering new artistic talent, and building collections that have since rapidly increased in value.
Leonardo DiCaprio has been fascinated by the arts from a young age on and has developed an acute eye for up-and-coming artists. The actor is frequently seen behind the scenes of major auctions. He has stated that he does not second-guess his own likes and dislikes when it comes to art - he buys what he loves. When asked to describe his taste, he told the Wall Street Journal: “In New York, Andy Warhol, Basquiat, Francesco Clemente and Julian Schnabel were the guys who were big in the 1980’s when I began to understand art better. They were my heroes, and I’ve continued to be a huge admirer of Basquiat.” His current collection reportedly also includes works by Frank Stella, Oscar Murillo, Salvador Dali and Ed Ruscha.
David and Victoria Beckham are known for their love for fashion, but the Beckhams have a strong passion for the arts as well. Their $40 million art collection is heavily dominated by young British artists (YBA Movement) from the mid-to-late nineties and rumored to be “love themed”. In 2012, Victoria even commissioned Damien Hirst to create a seven-foot, heart-shaped canvas with butterflies called “Daddy’s Girl” for daughter Harper’s birthday.
Rapper, producer and businessman Sean Diddy Combs is an excellent example of a celebrity who got into serious art collecting. He has been spotted at Art Basel Miami Beach on several occasions and in 2018 He bought Kerry James Marshall’s ‘Past Times’ for an expectation shattering $21.1 million at a Sotheby’s Auction. Over the years, the musician has acquired a number of show-stopping pieces such as a Tracey Emin neon and an Ivan Navarro mirrored sculpture. His son Quincy Brown predicts many more art related endeavours in Combs’ future. After all: “He’s done it all. What’s left? Collecting art.”
Lady Gaga has always had strong ties with the art world. She has worked directly with Marina Abramovic and the cover of her album ‘Pop Art’ was designed by Jeff Koons himself. The famous singer is always keen to foster new talent and is a supporter of the Watermill Center, an artist colony in the Hamptons. Her private collection includes many interesting works, among others by Leigh Bowery and Francesco Vezzoli.
Madonna’s art collection is worth over $100 million and boasts some of the most famous names in modern art. Her passion for art (and artists) however started way before she became the Queen of Pop. In the 1970s and early ’80s she crashed on the couch of Keith Haring, hung out with Andy Warhol and briefly dated Jean-Michel Basquiat. Her first high profile purchase was Fernand Leger’s ‘Les Deux Bicyclettes’ (1944), which cost her just short of $1 million at the time — a steal given today’s prices. She is also famous for her love of Frida Kahlo, of whom she has several pieces in her collection.
Oprah Winfrey also has a keen eye for art that will increase in value. In 2016 she made headlines by being part of the biggest private art deal of the year when she sold Gustav Klimt’s Adele Bloch-Bauer II (1912) to a Chinese collector for $150 million. With this sale she made a whopping $62 million profit – on what she paid for the artwork, which she bought anonymously at a Christie’s auction in 2006. Little is known about what else she has in her private collection, but this sale leaves much to the imagination.
Pharell Williams’ penthouse in Miami is known for its vast collection of artworks, including pieces by KAWS, Keith Haring and Daniel Arsham. The rapper, record producer, fashion designer, and entrepreneur is so passionate about contemporary art that he has been part of several creative collaborations, among others with artist Takashi Murakami on a piece called ‘Simple Things’ - a commentary on modern-day consumerism.
Jay-Z wasted no time establishing himself as a major collector. The references in his lyrics to Rothko, Basquiat, Warhol, Picasso, and Koons have become hallmarks of his style, and, unsurprisingly, he likes to surround himself with their work. For over a decade he and his wife Beyoncé have been scooping up masterpieces like Basquiat's ‘Mecca’ or Andy Warhol’s ‘Rorschach’ which is rumored to hang above their mantlepiece. By rapping about it all he is said to have helped educate millions of hip-hop fans.
Would you too, like to start your very own art collection? Check out our website to discover carefully selected artworks from all over the world and support up and coming artists you love.