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The 1%'s 18%

Clayton Pennington | June 16th, 2013


The superrich really are different, if numbers released by the Singapore-based firm Wealth-X are to be believed. A report released on June 5 claims that the world’s top ten billionaire art collectors have an average of 18% of their net worth tied up in their art collections.

The number one collector on the list is media mogul David Geffen, who is estimated to be worth $5.5 billion and has art holdings of $1.1 billion. That’s a whopping 20%.

If you think that’s a lot of eggs in one basket, consider British- Iranian collector Nasser David Khalili. Wealth-X posits that 93% of his estimated net worth of $1 billion is in his collections, meaning that they are valued at $930 million. Norman Braman, former owner of the Philadelphia Eagles, keeps more than half (56.3%) of his $1.6 billion net worth in art; that’s approximately $900 million.

Christie’s owner François Pinault makes the list as the richest, worth $9.9 billion, but he keeps only 10.1% in art ($1 billion). GAP founder Doris Fisher has an impressive collection—34.8% of her $2.3 billion net worth ($800 million).

Leon Black (called “Leonard” by Wealth-X) keeps 22.1% in art, around $750 million. Over 16% of that total is in one picture: Black was the buyer of Edvard Munch’s The Scream at Sotheby’s for $119,922,500 in May 2012.

The bulk of billionaires don’t own nearly that much art; Wealth-X estimates that of the world’s 2170 billionaires, the average holding is $31 million, .5% of their total net worth.

We’d love to tell you how Wealth-X arrived at these numbers, but a note in the report states that it used “a proprietary valuation model to assess all asset holdings including privately and publically held businesses and investible assets.”

If the art and antiques industry could get more collectors to sink 18% of their net worth into their collections, the recession/ depression in the business would be nothing but a bad memory.


Originally published in the July 2013 issue of Maine Antique Digest. © 2013 Maine Antique Digest

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