12 Surprising Celebrity Art Collectors
12 Surprising Celebrity Art Collectors
James Franco and Lady Gaga have been the talk of the art world ever since the two began dabbling in performance art, but they're hardly the only prominent pop-culture stars to have a glittering foot in the art world. Recently, in fact, a rising tide of interest in contemporary art has led more and more celebrities to enter the gallery and museum sphere, oftentimes as collectors, patrons, or producers — a fact that has brought no end of satisfaction to Los Angeles dealers, who have long sought to tap into Hollywood money (and the celebrity endorsements that come with it) in earnest.
While there's no mistaking these stars for the Steve Cohens or David Geffens of the world who spend millions on attention-grabbing historic works, these actors, designers, musicians, and sports gods have been throwing their support behind a number of rising (and established) talents in the art world. ARTINFO has assembled a list of 12 celebrity collectors, some of whom you may not have suspected.
Christina Aguilera has gone through a series of transformations over the course of her career, evolving from Disney’s pop princess into a tabloid-grabbing “Dirty” girl and now, in her latest incarnation, into an über-mechanical, space-age diva. During this time, Aguilera has also become something of an art connoisseur, giving the Polaroid-advising,no-pants-wearing Lady Gaga a run for her money. But whereas the Gaga gravitates toward performance-oriented artists like Francesco Vezzoli and Leigh Bowery, British graffiti art is more Xtina's cup of tea.
In 2005, the singer picked up two prints by Banksy and paid £25,000 (about $44,000) for another picture by the mysterious, high-profile artist of Queen Victoria getting, um, busy with a prostitute. Aguilera has also taken interest in the work of the London-based artist D*Face (real name Dean Stockton), whom she began collecting a few years ago. (Her husband, music executive Jordan Bratman, has long been a fan). Most recently the singer scooped up a pair of commissioned works, Pop Tart — a defaced Warhol Marilyn — and a portrait of herself as a pinup girl on an aircraft panel. She even asked D*Face to help create the cover of her upcoming "Bionic" album (due out in June), which depicts Aguilera with half of her face peeled away, revealing musical machinery underneath her skin.
Contacted for comment, the pop star told ARTINFO: “Jordan and I have been collectors of various styles of art for many years. We are particularly fond of the work D*face does and have many of his works in our home. He is a true talent.”
Jay-Z and Beyonce
Jay-Z and Beyoncé form an unstoppable duo and the reigning couple of hip-hop, conquering the charts together (as in “Crazy in Love”), winning accolades as solo artists, and embarking on successful entrepreneurial activities. Both were spotted in the last few editions of Art Basel Miami (in 2008, they had wanted to buy a series of photographs by Paul Pfeiffer, an artist most known for his video works). Apparently, “Bey,” as Hova fondly calls his wife, loves art and has turned him onto it. So far he’s invested in works by a few superstars of their own right, Damien Hirst and Richard Prince (all withthe help of art consultant extraordinaire Kim Heirston). “When I finally hang up the microphone,” the hip-hop mogul said in an interview last year, “I could even exhibit my own collection.”
Neil Patrick Harris
It is widely reported that How I Met Your Mother actor Neil Patrick Harris and his boyfriend, David Burtka, collect contemporary art — particularly of the macabre variety. Last year, they opened their Los Angeles home to benefit the city’s Museum of Contemporary Art, allowing guests to see works by Andrew Sendor and Tony Payne. Last January, the former Doogie Howser M.D. was seen checking out more works (perhaps to add to his collection?) at the inaugural Art Los Angeles Contemporary Art Fair.
A few years ago, Art+Auction spotted the Academy Award-nominated director Sofia Coppola at Art Basel Miami Beach and NADA buying works by Austrian conceptual sculptor Hugo Markl and French painter Anne-Laure Sacriste. (She also salsa danced at the Raleigh Hotel at a party she co-hosted with hotelier André Balasz, but that's another story). Coppola, whose fourth feature, Somewhere, comes out later this year, was also seen at last year’s Armory Show in New York looking at some of painter-filmmaker Larry Rivers works on display at the booth of New York’s Tibor de Nagy. This year she was back at the high-profile art fair, mingling with the likes of Björk and Jason Schwartzman.
As reported in Art+Auction, actor Val Kilmer has been working on an ambitious sculpture park at his New Mexico ranch, and he recently bought Roxy Paines 2009 Maelstrom, which was shown on the Metropolitan Museum of Arts rooftop last summer. The erstwhile Batman — and our favorite celebrity collector of the moment, perhaps due to our fleeting brush with him earlier this year — seems to take this new role as art-supporter seriously, showing up at this year’s Whitney Biennial, the press preview of the Alice Neel show at Houston's Museum of Fine Arts, and at Artpace's 15th=anniversary festivities in Santa Fe earlier this month.
The fashion designer Marc Jacobs, of his eponymous brand and Louis Vuitton fame, recently showed off his stellar art collection when he opened up his Paris apartment to W magazine and revealed works by Karen Kilimnik, Ed Ruscha, John Baldessari, and John Currin — whose wife, artist Rachel Feinstein, is a close friend of Jacob’s and appeared in his line’s fall 2004 ads. Impressive for someone who only started collecting seven years ago, no? The designer also owns a few works by Richard Prince, who collaborated with Jacobs for the runway presentation of Louis Vuitton’s Spring 2008 collection, where 1990s supermodels Stephanie Seymour and Nadja Auermann paraded down the catwalk dressed as the nurses in Prince’s series of paintings.
Victoria and David Beckham
Though the British power couple Victoria and David Beckham have been known to pamper themselves and their three sons with expensive goods and wear glitzy labels, and they don’t mind paying for some swanky art either. The former Spice girl and A.C. Milan footballer have decorated their L.A. home with Damien Hirsts, and it was reported not long ago that David dropped six figures for one of the mega-artist’s butterfly paintings as a birthday gift to his wife. "Both me and Victoria really like art," the soccer player has been quoted as saying. "We look for original works. In our house in England we have some pieces of great value."
Her ex may be a better-known patron of the arts, but actress Jennifer Aniston showed off her impressive art collection in the pages of Architectural Digests February issue. The former "Friend" posed in front of a Robert Motherwell painting, as reported by ARTINFO. A Throw of Dice No. 17, 1963, was sold at Christie’s in 2008 for $1.2 million and now hangs inside Aniston’s six-bedroom, seven-bathroom home, which she has named “Ohana” (“extended family” in Hawaiian). The Bounty Hunter actress, who at the age of 11 had a painting of hers exhibited at the Metropolitan Museum of Art (yes, you read that correctly), also has impeccable taste in design wares — among her finer pieces are an Art Deco ashtray by Jacques Adnet and a chandelier by glass artist Alison Berger.
Onscreen, Tobey Maguire has leapt to fame as the web-slinging Spiderman, but the actor's sideline as an art collector and habitue of art events is almost as well-kept a secret as Peter Parker's superhero identity. A few years ago, Maguire — most recently in last year’s Brothers, opposite Natalie Portman and Jake Gyllenhaal — successfully bid on a drawing by Mark Ryden, an artist best known for his beguiling and surreal paintings, at MoCA’s annual FRESH silent auction fundraiser. Around the same time, Maguire was spotted at Phillips de Pury's contemporary-art auction preview, inquiring about some of John Baldessaris works, and he has also been spotted eyeing works at the Armory Show and Art Basel Miami Beach, where in 2007 he bought a painting by Japanese artist Kaz Oshiro.
The adorably bumbling British actor Hugh Grant caused quite a buzz in his homeland when he revealed last December that he had bought a stunning Andy Warhol portrait of Elizabeth Taylor at Sotheby’s New York in 2001 — drunk. (Of course, when he smiles sheepishly he makes little admissions charming.) But the profit the comedic actor made after selling the painting at Christie’s in 2007 was no laughing matter: $18 million, nearly 10 times the price he paid. (The actor had also reportedly scored a guarantee from the auction house.) Though Grant has been more forthcoming with his father’s artistic endeavors — James Grant, a painter, had a sold-out show at Southampton last fall — he has been known to duck into London’s Frieze Art Fair nearly undetected, checking out the blue-chip contemporary works offered at the booths of Lisson and Gagosian.