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South African art historian gives her take on the top mega collectors in the world

Posted on 21 February 2019

Art is increasingly one of the most wanted investments, but do you know who are the most prolific art collectors in the world today? South African art historian Anna Tietze collaborated with Currys UK to create a Chief Art Collectors report featuring ten collectors who have spent the most amount of money on a single piece of art.

Tietze is a senior lecturer at Michaelis School of Fine Art in Cape Town and has successfully published books specifically about South African art history. "This project looked at the ten highest sales at international auction in recent years - with a view to seeing who was buying, which artworks were most sought after, and what prices they sold for," says Tietze. It offers us a look into the specialized world of collecting where buying is heavily conditioned by concerns about art as an investment.

Tietze says it is notable that majority of the works featured in the report date from the late 19th and 20th century and beyond with a relatively small number of artists and movements such as Picasso, the post-impressionists Van Gogh, Gauguin, Munch, Cezanne, and Klimt and Abstract Expressionists Rothko and de Kooning who have become the revered 'old masters' of our age.

The Women of Algiers (Version "O") by Pablo Picasso (1955)

Other notable insights from the top 10 Chief Art Collectors report is the 10 highest-spending individuals spent a collective total of $1.7billion on paintings and only one woman (Elaine Wynn) features in the top ten highlighting that high-end private art collecting is still a predominantly male activity.

The report highlights works of art as investable assets with spectacularly high prices paid at this end of the market. Tietze suggests that it will be interesting to see whether art will continue to hold its value and how much higher prices will climb before they begin to level out.

On the South African front, local artists have begun to enjoy long-overdue international interest. "The task is for artists, as well as their public and private collectors, to promote their talent internationally while keeping open plenty of space for idiosyncratic experiment and alternative visions," says Tietze.

Have a look at the full report here.




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