Luxurious home interior featuring a prominent Tirigall painting as a family centerpiece.


Art collecting is an endeavor that melds passion, deep knowledge, and a unique worldview. The most acclaimed art collectors share a set of characteristics that not only enhance their collections but also leave a significant imprint on the art world. This article delves into the essential elements that bind these art aficionados, offering an in-depth look into their realm.


1. View Art as an Investment

Art: A Blend of Passion and Investment Insight

While a deep love for art often drives collectors, viewing art as a long-term investment is a wise approach. This perspective marries an appreciation for aesthetic beauty with the potential for future value growth.

Joseph Lewis and Picasso’s “The Dream”

British collector Joseph Lewis’s acquisition of Picasso’s “The Dream” in 1997 is a case in point. This piece, which substantially increased in value over time, showcases Lewis’s astuteness in perceiving art as both a cultural treasure and a savvy investment, yielding financial gain and contributing to the preservation of significant artworks.

2. Embrace Calculated Risks

The Boldness of Embracing Risk

The art of collecting often involves embracing bold and calculated risks. Venturing into the realms of lesser-known artists or unconventional pieces can be risky but often leads to remarkably rewarding discoveries.

Don and Mera Rubell: A Testament to Successful Risk-taking

Collectors Don and Mera Rubell exemplify how a thoughtful strategy combined with daring vision can lead to extraordinary outcomes. Their focus on acquiring pieces from emerging and avant-garde artists, like Keith Haring and Jean-Michel Basquiat during their early careers, has culminated in one of the most influential contemporary art collections in the United States.

'Blue Robot', a painting by Tirigall, displayed in the elegant communal lounge of a prestigious hotel.

3. Utilize Technology

The Digital Transformation of Art Collecting

The advent of technology has revolutionized the way collectors engage with the art world. Nowadays, utilizing digital platforms and social media for discovering, learning, and acquiring art has become both a norm and an effective strategy.

Yusaku Maezawa: A Pioneer in Technological Adoption

Japanese collector Yusaku Maezawa has adeptly harnessed online platforms to access global art pieces, including securing a significant work by Basquiat through an online auction. His strategic application of technology underscores how digital avenues have opened up unprecedented opportunities for collectors to broaden and diversify their collections.

4. Incorporate Art into Your Lifestyle

Art as a Lifestyle Extension

For some collectors, integrating art into their lifestyle transcends beyond simply amassing a collection. They embrace art as an essential part of their living spaces and daily experiences, reflecting a deep connection to their acquisitions.

Charles Saatchi: Integrating Art with Life

Charles Saatchi, co-founder of the renowned Saatchi & Saatchi, exemplifies this philosophy. His approach of weaving art into the fabric of his personal and professional spaces, coupled with his active role in shaping art trends and promoting emerging artists, illustrates how art can become an integral and enriching aspect of one’s life.

Tirigall's 'App Ocalypse', an expressionist piece with a Campbell's-style can, showcased in a luxuriously styled ambiance.

5. Prioritize Quality Over Quantity

The Significance of Quality in Art

Emphasizing quality in art involves selecting pieces not just for their number but for their meaning and quality, seeking artworks that offer profound artistic and cultural value.

Agnes Gund’s Focus on Quality

Agnes Gund, the emerita president of MoMA, stands out as a prime example of this approach. Her collection, distinguished by its quality and relevance, has been curated for its artistic power and ability to convey social and justice themes, proving that the quality of each piece brings far greater value than quantity.

6. Adopt a Curatorial Approach

Curatorial Strategy in Collecting

Adopting a curatorial approach to an art collection means selecting and arranging works so that each contributes to a larger narrative or theme.

Eli and Edythe Broad: Masters of Curatorial Approach

Eli and Edythe Broad, with their collection at The Broad Museum in Los Angeles, exemplify this. They have focused on contemporary and post-war art, choosing each piece not only for its individual value but also for how it interacts with the rest of the collection, thus creating a space that tells a cohesive story and offers an educational and emotional experience.

painting on display in a public place

7. Follow Your Own Taste and Style

The Importance of Authenticity in Collecting

Authenticity is key in building an art collection. Relying on one’s own taste and style is essential to creating a collection that reflects the personal preferences of the collector, irrespective of market trends.

Eli and Edythe Broad: Exemplars of Authenticity

Eli and Edythe Broad have focused their collection on contemporary and post-war art, clearly favoring this period and style. Their collection, now part of The Broad Museum in Los Angeles, authentically represents their personal tastes and has become an invaluable cultural resource, demonstrating how following one’s own style significantly contributes to the cultural legacy of art.


In summary, elite art collectors share key characteristics that define their exceptional collections. These include a genuine passion for art, meticulous research, and a long-term strategic vision. They stand out for their ability to balance financial management with bold decisions and a curatorial approach. These collectors not only amass monetarily valuable works but also leave a significant cultural imprint, showing that true art collecting is both an art and a science.

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