23 of the World’s Most Famous Art Collectors

March 22, 2023

Surprisingly, some of the world’s most iconic artworks aren’t displayed in museums or art galleries.

They reside in the private art collections of a few billionaires across the globe — industrialists, celebrities, members of royal families and more. 

These famous art collectors don’t just collect art as a hobby. Investing in blue-chip art is an exciting alternative for portfolio diversification as well. 

In this article, we’ll introduce you to the world’s most famous art collectors, including celebrities, Instagram art collectors, and NFT art collectors.

We’ll also introduce you to an easy way to invest in fractional shares of iconic paintings (through Masterworks).

11 Most Famous Art Collectors Of All Time

Here are some of the most well-known collectors in the art world:

1. Ezra and David Nahmad

Value of the collection: $3 billion

Types of art: Impressionist and modern art

Most iconic piece: Picasso’s Jacqueline (1955)

Ironically, although these brothers are rumored to own around $900 million worth of Picassos, they aren’t major art lovers. 

Ezra and David Nahmad are first-and-foremost businessmen and enjoy art collecting when they can sell it for a profit. In fact, they own a stockpile of Impressionist and modern art stored in a tax-free warehouse in Switzerland. 

2. David Geffen

Value of the collection: $2.3 billion

Types of art: Mid-century American artists

Most iconic piece: David Hockney’s The Splash

David Geffen is an entertainment tycoon and avid art collector. His art collection includes post-war masterpieces by Mark Rothko, Jasper Johns, and Jackson Pollock

Geffen also sells artworks from his collection — at a profit. In 2016, he sold pieces by Willem de Kooning and Pollock to Kenneth C Griffin for half a billion dollars. Geffen also sold Jackson Pollock’s Painting No. 5 (1948) for a whopping $140 million to Mexican financier David Martinez.

3. Eli Broad and Edythe Broad

Value of the collection: $2.2 billion

Types of art: Post-war and contemporary art

Most iconic piece: Andy Warhol’s Two Marilyns

Eli Broad and Edythe Broad have an art collection of over 2,000 pieces by 200 artists, including Jasper Johns, Roy Lichtenstein, Barbara Kruger and Yayoi Kusuma. Most of their collection is displayed at The Broad Museum in Los Angeles.

Notable pieces you’ll spot include Two Marilyns by Warhol, an untitled piece by Rauschenberg, and I…I’m Sorry by Lichtenstein.

4. Philip Niarchos

Value of the collection: $2.2 billion

Types of art: Impressionist and modern art 

Most iconic pieces: Van Gogh’s Self-Portrait and Picasso’s Yo, Picasso

Philip Niarchos’ father, Stavros Niarchos, left him with a massive fortune and an extensive art collection, rumored to house the largest private collection of works by Vincent van Gogh

Niarchos has added to the collection throughout the years. New additions include a self-portrait by Basquiat and Andy Warhol’s Marilyn Red and Green Burning Car I (1963). 

5. Paul Allen

Value of the collection: Over $1.6 billion

Types of art: Pointillism, contemporary and Florentine art

Most iconic piece: Seurat’s Les Poseuses, Ensemble (Petite version)

Late Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen was a passionate art collector — his private collection spanned 26 years and featured iconic works by Botticelli, McArthur Binion, Vincent van Gogh and more.

In November 2022, Allen’s collection fetched over $1.6 billion at a Christie’s auction, making it the largest single-owner sale in auction history. The most expensive piece in the collection is Seurat’s Les Poseuses, Ensemble (Petite version), which sold for a whopping $149.2 million.

6. Francois Pinault

Value of the collection: $1.4 billion

Types of art: Modern and contemporary art 

Most iconic piece: Piet Mondrian’s Tableau Losangique II

Francois Pinault acquired Christie’s in 1998 — the world-leading auction house. He’s also the founder of luxury brands like Gucci and Yves Saint-Laurent. 

When it comes to collecting art, Pinault has been collecting modern and contemporary masterpieces for over 30 years, amassing a collection of over 2,500 artworks. His collection consists of works by prolific artists, including Rothko, Warhol and Koons.

7. Claribel and Etta Cone

Value of the collection: Over $1 billion 

Types of art: Modern art

Most iconic piece: Henri Matisse’s Pink Nude

Claribel Cone and Etta Cone, also known as the Cone sisters, were American art collectors and socialites. Their social circle included the likes of Pablo Picasso, Henri Matisse, and Gertrude Stein.

The sisters owned one of the most famous modern art collections in the United States. The collection is still featured in a wing of the Baltimore Museum of Art. 

8. Steve Cohen

Value of the collection: $1 billion

Types of art: Post-Impressionist and modern art

Most iconic pieces: Van Gogh’s Young Peasant Woman and Gauguin’s Bathers

Steve Cohen owns a museum’s worth of Post-Impressionist paintings and modern artworks. 

Notable pieces in his collection include Munch’s Madonna, Willem de Kooning’s Police Gazette and Woman III and Marc Quinn’s Self.

9. Count Giuseppe Panza di Biumo

Value of the collection: $11 million

Types of art: Pop Art, Minimalist Art

Most iconic pieces: Kosuth’s Self-Define and LeWitt’s Wall Drawing No. 3

Giuseppe Panza di Biumo started collecting art alongside his wife, Giovanna, in 1956. Giuseppe was one of the first promoters of Pop Art and later became fascinated by Minimalism, especially the works of Robert Morris, Dan Flavin, Carl Andre and Donald Judd. 

Giuseppe Panza di Biumo’s collection was considered one of the most important collections of post-war American art throughout the 1960s–1970s.

10. Daniel Turriani

Value of the collection: Unknown

Types of art: Contemporary art and antiques

Daniel Turriani is an Italian art collector and the founder of JT ART Asset — an art investment company specializing in contemporary, modern and Impressionist Art. 

Turriani collects contemporary works by Damien Hirst and Takashi Murakami and modern pieces by Henri Matisse and Modigliani.

11. Charles Saatchi

Value of the collection: Unknown

Types of art: Middle Eastern art

Charles Saatchi is an art collector and art dealer. When he decides to sell pieces from his collection, Saatchi avoids going through traditional auction houses like Christie’s and Sotheby’s. Instead, he prefers selling pieces online.

Charles Saatchi is also the founder of Saatchi Gallery — a beautiful national gallery in London, which he donated to the public. He’s also a major supporter of Young British Artists (YBAs), including iconic contemporary artists like Damien Hirst and Tracey Emin. 

5 Celebrities Who Have an Eye for Art 

From singers to actors, here are five celebrities who love collecting art:

1. Madonna

Value of the collection: Around $100 million 

Types of art: Nude photography, Art Deco accents, female artists

Most iconic pieces: Picasso’s Buste de Femme a la Frange, Fernand Léger’s Les Deux Bicyclettes

Madonna has multiple pieces by Frida Kahlo and Tamara de Lempicka hidden away in her trove. The singer is highly attached to her Frida Kahlo paintings — she refused to let the Detroit Institute of Art feature one of her Kahlo paintings in their show. 

She’s also a big fan of street artists like Banksy and JR.  

2. Beyoncé and Jay-Z

Value of the collection: $70 million

Types of art: Contemporary art

Most iconic piece: Jean-Michel Basquiat’s Mecca (1982)

This famous duo not only performs together but collects art together.

Beyoncé’s favorite artists are Kara Walker, Tracy Emin and Donald Judd. She also loves helping emerging artists break into the art world — she asked Tyler Mitchell to photograph her Vogue shoot in 2018, making him the first African American to shoot the magazine’s cover. 

On the other hand, Jay-Z has mentioned legendary artists like Michelangelo, Rembrandt and Jeff Koons in his music. He also owns Ed Ruscha and David Hammons pieces and a few prints by Richard Prince. 

3. Leonardo DiCaprio

Value of the collection: Over $10 million

Types of art: Contemporary art 

Most iconic pieces: Pablo Picasso’s Fillette Couronne au Bateau (1939) and Walton Ford’s The Tigress

Named after the iconic old master, Leonardo da Vinci, actor Leonardo DiCaprio’s art collection is exceptionally diverse, like the wide range of characters he’s played on the big screen.

Dicaprio is a big fan of Jean Michel Basquiat, Jean-Pierre Roy, Takashi Murakami, and Eric White. He’s also a regular at art fairs like Art Basel, where he’s usually spotted sporting a baseball cap and jeans. 

Notable works of art in his collection include Oscar Murillo’s Untitled (Drawings off the wall) and Heinz Schulz-Neudamm’s Metropolis.

4. Sean Combs (P Diddy)

Value of the collection: Unknown

Types of art: Contemporary art

Most iconic piece: Kerry James Marshall’s Past Times

P Diddy’s art collection consists of works by iconic artists like Ai Weiwei, Andy Warhol, Keith Haring, and Jean Michel Basquiat.

His most notable piece is Kerry James Marshall’s Past Times, which he purchased for a whopping $21.1 million at a Sotheby’s auction in May 2018.

5. ​​Tobey Maguire

Value of the collection: Unknown

Types of art: Contemporary art

Most iconic piece: A painting by Kaz Oshiro

Tobey Maguire has been spotted at art fairs like the New York Armory Show and Art Basel Miami, where he purchased a piece by Kaz Oshiro. 

In 2010, Tobey Maguire interviewed graffiti artist KAWS for Interview Magazine.  

Instagram has become a great platform for auction houses and art galleries to showcase their pieces. Collectors can easily buy fascinating artwork through the app.

Here are five Instagram art collectors you need to know:

1. Robert Suss

Value of the collection: Unknown

Types of art: Chinese contemporary art 

Most iconic piece: Ruud van Empel’s World no 19 (2006)

Robert Suss is the co-founder of the Frank-Suss Collection — a foundation that aims to discover and support talented emerging artists. 

While Suss initially only collected Chinese contemporary art, his collection now consists of 1,000 contemporary artworks from global artists. 

2. Susi Kenna

Value of the collection: Unknown

Types of art: Bold and colorful contemporary art, street art, and nail art 

Most iconic piece: Barbara Kruger’s Stay and Go

As the previous social media manager for Art Basel, Susi Kenna knows a thing or two about art collecting.

She is now the social media director for David Zwirner’s gallery and the founder of Nail Art History — a Tumblr blog where Kenna recreates famous paintings as nail art. 

3. Adrian Cheng

Value of the collection: Unknown

Types of art: Western and Asian contemporary artworks

Most iconic pieces: Asuki NFT collection

Adrian Cheng is the founder of the K11 art malls — shopping centers that feature retail shopping floors and art galleries in the basement.

Adrian Cheng is also an avid NFT art collector and is well-known for purchasing 101 Asuki NFTs. 

4. Alan Lo

Value of the collection: Unknown

Types of art: Asian art

Most iconic piece: Sterling Ruby’s collage-on-canvas work from his “BC” series (2012)

Alan Lo is an ardent art collector and co-founder of the Duddell restaurant in Hong Kong, which has fantastic art exhibitions and screenings.

Starting out, Alan Lo selectively bought from emerging and established names across China, Japan, the Philippines and Korea. However, his collection now features a growing number of pieces by Western artists like Andy Warhol. 

5. Schwanda Rountree

Value of the collection: Unknown

Types of art: Contemporary art

Most iconic piece:  Nina Chanel Abney’s Two Years and Counting (2018)

Schwanda Rountree is a full-time attorney and runs an art consultancy business in Washington. Her collection consists primarily of iconic works by Black artists. 

Over the years, Rountree has collected the works of artists like Renee Cox, Sanford Biggers, Toyin Ojih Odutola, and more. 

What sets Rountree apart from other collectors is that she conducts thorough research and forges long-term relationships with the artists she collects — instead of going after well-known names in the art market. 

2 Well-Known NFT Art Collectors

NFT art is digital artwork that you own in the form of a crypto token. You can access and trade NFT artwork on a blockchain like Ethereum.

Here are two of the world’s most well-known digital art collectors:

1. Justin Sun

Value of the collection: Over $100 million

Types of art: Digital and traditional art

Most iconic pieces:  Pablo Picasso’s Femme Nue Couchée Au Collier and Beeple’s Ocean Front

Justin Sun is the founder of Tron (a cryptocurrency platform) and the CEO of BitTorrent. So, it’s no surprise that he’s a big fan of crypto art.

He has collected over $100 million worth of NFT art and traditional art, including the works of Pablo Picasso, Andy Warhol and Giacometti.

Sun owns Beeple’s iconic Ocean Front and tried his luck at Everydays: The First 5,000 Days but was outbid by Vignesh Sundaresan. 

2. Eric Young

Value of the collection: Over $1 million

Types of art: Digital art

Most iconic pieces: Pak’s The Pixel

Eric Young bought his first Bitcoin in 2015. He developed an interest in crypto art thanks to Trevor Jones’ animation called Picasso’s Bull

Since then, Young has bought over 350 NFT artworks — an investment amounting to well over $1 million. One of Young’s most notable investments is Pak’s The Pixel, which he bought for $1.4 million during an auction held by Sotheby’s and Nifty Gateway.

Interested in investing in fine art but don’t want to shell out millions of dollars buying art?

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  • Or opt to sell your shares on the secondary market.

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Start investing in shares of iconic artworks and build a diversified portfolio by completing Masterworks’ membership application.

This material is provided for informational and educational purposes only. It is not intended to be investment advice and should not be relied on to form the basis of an investment decision.

*Net returns refer to the annualized internal rate of return net of all fees and costs, calculated from the offering closing date to the date the sale is consummated. IRR may not be indicative of Masterworks paintings not yet sold, and past performance is not indicative of future results. 

See important Reg A disclosures: Masterworks.com/cd 

Masterworks is a fintech company democratizing the art market. Our investors are able to fractionally invest in $1mn+ works of art by some of the world's most famous and sought-after artists.