Artnews, in consultation with numerous industry professionals from 22 countries, has released a list of the top ten most active international art collectors. Nine out of the ten collectors are also featured in the Forbes billionaires list and span a range of countries.

Russian Tycoon Roman Abramovich. Image taken from

Russian Tycoon Roman Abramovich. Image taken from

Topping the list is Moscow based Tycoon and Chelsea Football club owner Roman Abramovich who in 2008 is said to have bought Lucian Freud’s Supervisor Sleeping for US$33.6 million and Francis Bacon’s Triptych for US$86.3 million.

Confidence is being expressed towards the global art market with Artnews quoted as saying that the “global art market in general is recovering from the global financial recession.”

Christie’s CEO Edward Dolman is also quoted as saying that they are “genuinely surprised at how robust the market appears to be” and that “it’s not just the top end of the market that is strong. It has much more depth than we’ve seen in recent times.”

However, in 2009, Sotheby’s sold $2.3 billion of fine and decorative art, down 53% from 2008 figures. Christie’s sales of $2.5 billion of art were down 45.6% on those of 2008 according to The Wall Street Journal.

According to Sotheby’s CEO William Ruprecht, “China continues to be unbelievably important.” China, unlike the rest of the world where art sales were below peak levels, experienced a rise, increasing its market share in the world to 14% according to Art Knowledge News.

We list the top ten Artnews collectors in the publication’s order:

  • Roman Abramovich (Moscow)
    Business interests: Steel mining, investments and professional soccer (Chelsea Football Club)
    Collects: Modern and contemporary art
  • Debra and Leon Black (New York)
    Business interests: Investment banking
    Collects: Old Masters; Impressionism; Modern painting; Chinese sculpture; contemporary art
  • Edythe L. and Eli Broad (Los Angeles)
    Business interests: Financial services and housing development (retired)
    Collects: Contemporary art
  • Alexandra and Steven A. Cohen (Greenwich, Connecticut)
    Business interests: Hedge fund
    Collects: Impressionism; Modern and contemporary art
  • Joseph Lau (Hong Kong)
    Business interests: Real estate
    Collects: Modern and contemporary art (especially Warhol)
  • Philip S. Niarchos (Paris; London; Saint Moritz, Switzerland)
    Business interests: Shipping and finance
    Collects: Old Masters; Impressionism; Modern and contemporary art
  • François Pinault (Paris)
    Business interests: Luxury goods (PPR) and auctions (Christie’s)
    Collects: Contemporary art
  • Emily and Mitchell Rales (Potomac, Maryland; New York)
    Business interests: Tool industry
    Collects: Modern and contemporary art


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By Brittney

Brittney is a writer, curator and contemporary art gallerist. Born in Singapore and based in New York City, Brittney maintains a deep interest in the contemporary art landscape of Southeast Asia. This is combined with an equally strong interest in contemporary art from the Asian diasporas, alongside the issues of identity, transmigration and global relations.

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