The 50 Most Exciting Art Collectors Under 50 (Part 2)

The second half of Modern Painters's list of adventurous young art aficionados.
(Illustration by ARTINFO)

This is the second part of Modern Painters's list of the "50 Most Exciting Collectors Under 50" (for Part I, click here). To see an illustrated gallery of the figures listed here, with their descriptions, click on the slide show. 

Mohammed Afkhami
Dubai/New York
Managing partner of MA Partners dmcc, a commodities derivatives consultancy based in the Middle East, Afkhami also serves as an adviser on capital placement to several of the largest global alternative investment firms. He collects international contemporary art, in particular Middle Eastern art, and is a founding member of the British Museum’s Middle East and North African art acquisition committee.


Laura and John Arnold
Recently retired founder of the Centaurus Advisors hedge fund and self-made billionaire, John Arnold, the “king of natural gas,” and his wife, Laura, are committed philanthropists and art collectors. The couple live in a Cubist-inspired house designed by New York architect Alexander Gorlin and collect predominantly modern and contemporary art. Inspired by Warren Buffett and Bill Gates, they have pledged to give away half of their wealth over the course of their lifetime.

Haro Cumbusyan and Bilge Ogut-Cumbusyan
“I think a collection should be worth more than the sum of its parts. It should put the artworks into context, reveal unexpected relationships, or allow for surprising new readings,” says Haro Cumbusyan. He and his wife, Bilge, collect mainly video, film, and new media. Because both of them work with technology in their professional lives — Bilge as an investment consultant in technology, media, and telecommunications; Haro as a management consultant — they feel very comfortable with “emerging technologies and connecting cables,” as they put it. Focusing their collection on moving images provided them the opportunity to acquire artworks on a modest budget.

“Everything goes back to art institutions: Bilge and I started dating at the Guggenheim and got engaged at the Whitney,” recounts Haro. Their interest in art institutions motivated the two to open Collectorspace, a nonprofit venue in Istanbul dedicated to making works in private collections publicly available in exhibitions. Says Haro, “For an artwork to be relevant, it should enter the public consciousness.”

Hilary Hatch-Rubenstein
New York
A psychoanalyst by trade and a chairman of the Junior Associates at MoMA, Hatch-Rubenstein has an appetite for art influenced by her parents’ longtime involvement with the Philadelphia Museum of Art. Her first individual purchase, at the age of 15, was an Andy Warhol print of Greta Garbo. Since then her collection has grown to include artists such as Yayoi Kusama, Jim Lambie, Nick Relph and Oliver Payne, Franz West, Tomma Abts, and Mark Leckey.

Alexander Heller
New York
The son of New York–based dealer Leila Heller, Alexander obviously learned quite a bit from his upbringing in the art world. “I first attended Art Basel at the age of 4,” Heller recalls. Now, his eclectic collection of roughly 70 pieces is divided, he says, between Western and Middle Eastern work, including that of Farhad Moshiri, Shiva Ahmadi, Afruz Amighi, Damien Hirst, George Condo, and Marilyn Minter.

“The period of art which I most admire is the 1950s and ’60s movement in America, particularly Roy Lichtenstein, Jasper Johns, and Robert Rauschenberg,” he says.  “Leo Castelli is a hero of mine, and one day I hope to have a collection full of works by the artists whom he represented and promoted.”

Jamie Cohen Hort
New York
Daughter-in-law of notable collectors Susan and Michael Hort, Jamie is an art consultant who earned her chops working at the Hirshhorn Museum, the Jewish Museum, and the IBM Gallery. Her family has also been an influence, and last year she curated the installation in the couple’s home for their exclusive Armory Week brunch. In addition Hort often advises the various charities she supports, such as the Jewish Community Project and the Rema Hort Mann Foundation, which offers grants to emerging artists (and support to cancer patients). Like her mother- and father-in-law, Hort has a passion for emerging artists. Her particular affinity is for the gallery scene on the Lower East Side, which she told the Financial Times in 2011 “generally has the advantage of a lower price entry point.”

Susi Kenna
New York
Having worked for both Jim Kempner Fine Art and Christie’s auction house, Kenna now runs the Creatives Agency, which offers branding, special projects, and design services to the art world. She’s been actively collecting since 2005. “I can tell you a story about every piece,” she says. “If I can’t connect a work to a meaningful person, place, or thing — it’s not for me.” Recent acquisitions that she’s especially proud of include mixed-media works by Andrea Mary Marshall and Eric Mistretta. They join a collection that includes multiple pieces from Hew Locke, Carlos Charlie Perez, and Sam Schonzeit.

Nathan Köstlin
“I don’t see myself as a collector,” says the 39-year-old Köstlin, sitting in the family portrait room of the building — including a two-floor commercial space, formerly his venture, ArtBar71 — he shares with his husband, Ulrich Köstlin. While traditional portraits in the room show the faces of his husband’s family, dating back to the 1500s and further, a hamster cage by Franziska Holstein — homage to Nathan’s pet name — places the Vietnam War orphan in a rightfully different light.

Like his portrait, Köstlin’s collecting is far from traditional. “It’s one thing just to have a Warhol, a Lichtenstein — that becomes status. It’s another to know the artists, to understand their motives and the whole evolution that brought them to create the pictures that you love. But it’s also another thing to support them so that they can make further strides. The only way to get them there is to push them a little bit,” he explains. Thus, while the collection does have a fair share of established names — Christo, Heinz Mack, Thomas Florschuetz, and Manfred Butzmann among them — Köstlin’s focus is on the young and struggling talents in Berlin. Much of the work was purchased directly from studios, including the two large light-box paintings by Cornelia Renz that adorn the cavernous dining room, one of Stevie Hanley’s first corner paintings, and a self-portrait by Michael Müller. “We’re trying to make constant Polaroids with artists who are feeling with their ear to the ground the pulse and the rhythm of where our world is today and then putting it in a historical context,” he says. Perhaps pulling from his own past, one senses that Köstlin sees himself as adopting these “lost souls,” as he calls them, collecting lives as much as tangible works in the process.  Alexander Forbes







Andrea Kusel
Curator of art at the Paisley Museum since 1996, Kusel is also chairman of the board of Street Level Photoworks, a nonprofit organization in Glasgow committed to fostering public interest and participation in photography. Her academic training in film and television studies, museum studies, and art history has enabled her to bring a modern perspective to the museum’s historical collection, as well as to her own purchases.

Dean and Mara Landis
New York
CEO of Entrepreneur Growth Capital, Dean is a third-generation financial manager. Along with his wife, Mara, Dean actively contributes to a number of children’s charities when not buying works by contemporary artists such as Julianne Swartz.

Suzanna Lee and Manish Vora
New York
Lee, a member of the Whitney Contemporaries steering committee and the Creative Time creative council, lives with her boyfriend, Vora, cofounder of Artlog and Grey Area, and their burgeoning collection. “It seems that portraits have been dominating our collection and that many of the artists we love live in Brooklyn,” Vora says. “Most recently we have acquired a beautiful portrait from Sarah Kurz, a Jackie O portrait on a Vogue magazine cover by Andrea Mary Marshall, and a Peggy Guggenheim portrait by Rachel Kaye. We also have two large, full-body portrait canvases from Panamanian artist Miky Fábrega that we have decided to loan to friends, as we could not fit the works in our East Village apartment.” Lee and Vora are anticipating the arrival of newly acquired works from Natalie Frank, Nic Rad, and Nir Hod.

Daisuke Miyatsu
Ichikawa, Japan
Miyatsu lives in what he terms his “dream house,” still under construction and conceived in collaboration with the artist Dominique Gonzalez-Foerster, who had never before undertaken an architectural project. Inside, one finds a commissioned work by Yoshitomo Nara, an ink-and-wash work on a sliding screen, made as a personal favor for his longtime collector and friend; bathroom wallpaper by Japanese conceptual artist Shimabuku; a trompe l’oeil ceiling in the main bedroom by young Japanese artist Teppei Kaneuji, in which strange creatures fashioned from paper peek out from knots in the wood. On the landing stands a mirror whose frame was created for him by Yayoi Kusama. Meanwhile, Miyatsu’s formal collection — the one that was celebrated in a special exhibition at MOCA Taipei last year — is miles away in a temperature-controlled, earthquake-proof Tokyo warehouse.

Miyatsu happily calls collecting an addiction, and he has fed his habit for the past 18 years, even though he has nothing like the money that most connoisseurs bring to the endeavor. In fact he is widely known in Asia as the “salaryman collector,” having financed his impressive collection of international contemporary art with the paycheck from his job as a Tokyo office worker. Miyatsu’s passion was sparked while he was still at school, when he came across the work of Andy Warhol. But it was Japan’s eccentric genius Yayoi Kusama who transformed him into a collector. “Do you know how the astronaut feels in '2001: A Space Odyssey' when he encounters space?” Miyatsu asks. “That’s how I felt when I first stood in front of her work.” A few years later, when he had a steady job, he launched his collection with a small Kusama drawing from 1953. In the years that followed, Miyatsu’s Kusama collection grew, and he also began collecting works by the likes of Nara and Olafur Eliasson. “There is something egotistical about being a collector,” he says. “And that is why it is my responsibility to keep the collection safe in storage so that one day it can be passed on.” — Madeleine O’Dea

José Antonio Marton
São Paulo
One of the most successful designers in Brazil, Marton began to collect in 1990, when a friend gave him a Renina Katz painting, “Os Retirantes,” as payment for a job. In 1995, with his brother Fernando, he founded Marton+Marton, a firm dedicated to design, architecture, and art projects. Every month the company advises an average of 30 to 50 artists. Most of the 400 or so works in Marton’s collection are by artists who launched their careers in the 1980s and ’90s. “My focus has always been Brazilian artists like Vik Muniz, Ernesto Neto, Rosângela Rennó, Valeska Soares, Marcelo Cidade, Marcius Galan, and Ana Tavares, among others,” Marton says. That’s not to say his collection stays within national boundaries — he also owns work by Anselm Kiefer, José Pedro Croft, and Charles Long.

Andreas Melas
A dealer as well as a collector, Melas began his career at Deitch Projects, in New York, before branching out with Andreas Melas Presents, in its initial manifestation as a project, and then as a bona fide exhibition space in Athens. In 2011 Melas joined up with Helena Papadopoulos (of Berlin’s Nice and Fit) on their eponymous Greek gallery. Melas’s collection includes work by Sterling Ruby, Martin Boyce, Cyprien Gaillard, Urs Fischer, and Joe Bradley.

Jillian Murphy
New York
While working at C24 Gallery and also acting as co-director of the independent migratory curatorial organization AD Projects, Murphy finds time to add to a personal art collection that she began around 2006. That year she was given a Gary Simmons painting, “Untitled #1 (Study for Marnie’s Room).” “It definitely shaped the direction for my collection,” she says, “as it’s aesthetically beautiful but also inherently disastrous. Everything I have collected since is both beautiful and chaotic.”

Valeria Napoleone
Napoleone, married to a banker and the mother of three, collects art exclusively by women. With well over 200 pieces — paintings, sculpture, photography, film, video, and installations — her collection includes work by Shirin Neshat, Ghada Amer, Joanne Greenbaum, Nina Canell, and others. She has been a judge for the MaxMara Art Prize for Women and chairs the development committee at the nonprofit Studio Voltaire.

Alden and Janelle Pinnell
Texas collectors are known to have a penchant for glamour, but Alden Pinnell is cut from different cloth. The 41-year-old cosmetics magnate is just as likely to be spotted in jeans, cooking a whole roasted pig alongside artist Virginia Overton at his kunsthalle-like art space, the Power Station, as he is chairing a high-profile charity art auction. Alden’s boundary-breaking spirit is the driving force behind his art space, which opened a year and a half ago in a sprawling former Dallas Power and Light warehouse.

Since then, the Power Station has hosted ambitious installations by Overton, Matias Faldbakken, Oscar Tuazon, and Jacob Kassay. “The Power Station allows artists to make work outside the white cube,” says Alden. “Not all art is collectible.” Which isn’t to say he doesn’t collect. Though he never displays his collection at the Power Station, Alden and his wife, Janelle, have been quietly assembling some 200 pieces of contemporary art over the last decade with the help of art adviser (and Power Station board member) Rob Teeters. As their kunsthalle demonstrates, the Pinnells eschew showy, Pop-inflected pieces for a more contemplative aesthetic. Work by artists like Mark Manders, Michaël Borremans, Lucas Samaras, and Nigel Cooke fill their home. “The art that we like the best in our collection isn’t too seductive,” Alden says. “It’s like music: The songs you don’t understand immediately are the ones you are still listening to 20 years later.” — Julia Halperin

Sharmin Parameswaran
Kuala Lumpur
Formerly an accountant and now a manager of the media company Astro Malaysia, Parameswaran grew up in an art-collecting family; her father, Malaysian diplomat Datuk N. Parameswaran, has one of the country’s largest collections. After starting her own collection with a small painting by Raja Azeem Idzham, Parameswaran launched Interpr8 with childhood friend Cindy Tang. The company, dedicated to making Malaysian art more accessible to young collectors, recently had its inaugural exhibition, “At First Glance,” at White Box @ Publika in Solaris Dutamas.

Piper Perabo
New York
The multifaceted Perabo — a stage and screen actress who is also in the restaurant business as a co-owner of SoHo spot Jack’s Wife Freda — is an art lover and collector. She has expressed fondness for an eclectic roster of artists, from Ryan McGinley to Anish Kapoor to Gordon Matta-Clark.

Lauren Prakke
“Super contemporary!” exclaims Prakke, when asked how she would describe her collection. The London-based American, originally from New York, worked on Wall Street and in the City before venturing into the art world. She’s since become a stalwart of Britain’s younger generation of collectors and patrons. “I did the usual,” she remembers of her early art days. “Make a few mistakes, do a degree in contemporary art, make fewer mistakes, go to all the fairs under the sun, absorb, start to get the hang of it, and read copiously.”

Prakke is the founding chairman of Tate’s Young Patrons group, now the institution’s fastest growing network of supporters. She also spearheads the cultural production company Restless Buddha, serves on the Junior Leadership Circle of Women for Women International, and is the founder of Prakke Contemporary, a production and consultancy agency that operates on a project-by-project basis. “My philosophy is that if you throw yourself in the water, you will swim,” Prakke says. Her collection includes works by such edgy luminaries as Thomas Houseago, Wangechi Mutu, Vanessa Beecroft, Barry Reigate, and Matthew Day Jackson. Coline Milliard

Rodney Reid
New York
In cofounding the Contemporaries, a nonprofit art and social club that exposes young professionals to contemporary art and culture, Reid directed his passion for art collecting toward fostering a community of like-minded people. The invitation-only collective has approximately 2,000 members in Atlanta, London, Los Angeles, Miami, and New York City. Reid, executive director at UBS, is an aficionado of contemporary photography whose collection includes Alec Soth, Vik Muniz, Pieter Hugo, and Chuck Close.

Christian Schwarm
Head of the international marketing agency Dorten, Schwarm is more recognizable as founder and managing director of Independent Collectors, a social network site for contemporary art enthusiasts. As the largest online resource of privately owned art, the free-to-join Web site has grown to about 4,000 collectors from almost 90 countries since its inception in 2008. Schwarm himself began collecting in 1995 with the acquisition of works by Fiona Banner and Peter Piller, whom he continues to follow. Today his collection includes about 200 works by artists such as Haegue Yang, Jonathan Monk, and Fiete Stolte.

Dan Tanzilli
New York
A director at the art-focused public relations firm Fitz & Co, Tanzilli is building a private collection while acting as cochair of the Guggenheim’s Young Collectors Council (YCC). “I have a lot of really great drawings and works on paper, which are clearly more accessible and work well in my small Union Square co-op,” he says. “I have an incredible painting by Angel Otero and a great geometric abstraction by Marc Swanson that I just love; they’re real focal points.” Tanzilli’s collection also includes works from Klara Kristalova, Alex Da Corte, Michael Velliquette, Sam Durant, and Jim Hodges. At the moment, he’s gearing up for the YCC’s Guggenheim International Gala after-party this fall.

Maurice van Valen
In 2011 Van Valen made headlines when he donated 63 artworks to the Stedelijk Museum, including pieces by Atelier Van Lieshout, Isa Genzken, and Rachel Harrison. The gift was a godsend for an institution that had been heavily criticized in the press since the arrival of MOCA veteran Ann Goldstein as director. It was also a declaration of local support from the lawyer and encouragement for others to follow suit in a country where philanthropic gifts are not a major part of the cultural landscape.

Van Valen bought his first artwork — a series, actually, of lithographs by the Dutch artist Corneille — when he was only 15, with money he had saved from Christmases and birthdays. “I had this awareness: This is the beginning of something beautiful, of something big,” he remembers. The budding collector then moved on to Pop art: He bought a series of Keith Haring screen prints that he sold at Christie’s before turning 18 and began collecting in earnest. Today his collection, he says, is “a mixture of artists from all ages,” with a particular focus on “artists’ artists” and the lesser-known figures. Dutch artists like Johan Lennarts feature prominently, as do artists from Los Angeles — such as Eric Wesley, Yutaka Sone, Morgan Fisher, and William Leavitt — where Van Valen lived for a while. He also keeps a close eye on U.K.-based Michael Dean, Andy Holden, and Andrea Büttner. In 2003 Van Valen opened a commercially successful but short-lived gallery. “I strongly disliked the activity of selling art,” he says. Yet he’s not against renewing his holdings. “For me collecting is not working on a static thing, it is always fluid.” — CM

Christiane zu Salm
Founder and CEO of the private equity fund About Change Ventures (ACV), zu Salm developed an interest in contemporary art during her 15-year career in the media industry. After revamping MTV Central Europe and founding two TV channels while CEO of Euvia Media AG, she founded ACV and an accompanying exhibition initiative, “About Change, Collection,” at Berlin’s Am Kupfergraben 10, in 2007. Since then, zu Salm has organized a number of shows and projects around her collection, which has grown out of an initial focus on the collages and assemblages of artists like Kurt Schwitters and Picasso to include works by Arnulf Rainer, Carsten Nicolai, Cy Twombly, Franz West, Hanne Darboven, Jon Kessler, Jörg Herold, Josh Smith, Karl Holmqvist, Lee Friedlander, Martha Rosler, Nam June Paik, Pae White, Thomas Hirschhorn, Tobias Rehberger, and Yves KleinTracy Stuber