The artnet News Index: The World’s Top 100 Art Collectors for 2016, Part One

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Here it is, artnet News’s roundup of the world’s top 100 Collectors. Once again, we’ve pulled together an encyclopedic museum’s worth of art trade resources to arrive at what we believe to be the world’s most essential inventory of major art collectors. How is this year’s review of the world’s top collectors different from other lists? For one, our 2016 grouping is more compact, extensive, and better researched than previous rosters. Additionally, the list is also remarkably detailed and up to date, incorporating some of the latest movements major collectors have made around the globe—as told to artnet News—over the intervening 12 months.

Today’s top art collectors are an evolving lot. At once more global, wealthier, more interconnected, and politically exposed than ever, they sit atop an unequal and stagnant world economy (thanks to slow growth, falling commodity prices, currency devaluations, and general economic and political malaise) that increasingly buttons them as a privileged elite. Perhaps for this reason, today’s Ultra High Net Worth (UHNW) collectors increasingly behave like startled grizzly bears. While these art world predators still throw plenty of weight around, at pivotal moments—read, this year’s spring auctions—they appear unsure of whether to gorge or hibernate for the winter.

Times have changed—somewhat—since the frothy highs of 2015, when Liu Yiqian, a former taxi driver turned-billionaire art collector with two private Shanghai art museums, bought Amadeo Modigliani’s Nu Couché(1917–18) at Christie’s November sale for $170 million, and a second, less-public buyer shelled out $70 million for Cy Twombly‘s Untitled (New York City) (1968) at Sotheby’s. Last year, both auction houses jointly raked in $2.3 billion in just 10 days. Since then, auction results haveslipped drastically—sales at Christie’s and Sotheby’s dropped roughly 60 percent in 2016—framed by a newly chastened art market that has been described by experts as “softening,” “tepid,” “thinning” or, more prosaically, undergoing “a correction.”

Yet, despite these adjustments at the top of the food chain, covetous art collectors around the world continue to defy predictions of an art-market bust. In a less flashy repeat of last year, Japanese fashion mogul Yusaku Maezawa dropped $98 million in just two days in May for works that included a $57.3 million Jean-Michel Basquiat and a $2.6 million self-portrait by Romanian artist Adrian Ghenie. Proving, once again, that even in an economy where Wall Street bonuses have dipped and the supply of rare luxury goods has crept up, deep-pocketed buyers like Maezawa and others on the artnet News Index can make outsize impressions on the market.

Read the full article at ArtNetNews

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