Brad Pitt is known for his admiration for Banksy, while P. Diddy is amassing a collection of works by Kerry James Marshall.
Buying high-end artwork is one of the main ways celebrities increase their investments. Much like stocks, art gains value over time, building the net worth of the individual who owns the work. Whether celebrities buy the art to help fund the careers of their favorite artists, use the works to build their investment portfolio, or simply admire and appreciate the art itself, they are contributing to the art market to through curatorial sales and auctions around the world.
Some celebrities choose a favorite style of art for their collections. This can include a variety of pieces ranging from graffiti and street artists to major canonical works by classical, impressionist or post-modern masters. In recent cases, it may also include digital sphere art, presented in the form of NFTs. Others may choose a specific artist they admire and search for several of their pieces. Brad Pitt is known for his awe of banksywhile P. Diddy brings together a collection of works by Kerry James Marshall. Others, however, are more keen to seek out up-and-coming artists whose pieces are still cheap. As the public becomes aware of their growing popularity, they can then sell the coins at auction, which makes a significant gain in the process. Regardless of the art they collect or their reason for owning the expensive pieces, these celebrities have acquired some of the most expensive art collections in history.
ten Leonardo DiCaprio, $18 million
Leonardo DiCaprio is known for both his activism and his art collection. It has works by some of the most recognized personalities in the art world, including a $9 million Basquiat and a $3.2 million Picasso. Unfortunately, both coins were turned over to the authorities related to an embezzlement situation related to the 1Malaysia Development Berhad fund.
9 Ellen Degeneres, $20 million
Shortly after responding to rumors of her “toxic work environment”, Ellen Degeneres put the majority of her art collection up for auction. The sale included pieces by renowned masters such as Jean-Michel Basquiat, Alexander Calder and François-Xavier Lalanne. The collection was valued at approximately $10 million alone.
8 Brad Pitt, $25 million
Brad Pitt is known for his contemporary art collection. He owns several original parts of the street artist Banksy who leads to a friendship between the two celebrities. In 2009, Pitt reportedly spent $1 million on a single piece by German artist Neo Rauch.
7 Madonna, $100 million
Madonna is known for her collection of classical and contemporary art. She sold a piece by Fernand Léger at Sotheby’s for a reported price $7.2 million and has both a Pablo Picasso and a Frida Kahlo. She is also not afraid of emerging artists. She commissioned Thierry Guetta, the subject of Banksy’s documentary Exit through the gift shop, to create the cover for one of his biggest hit collections.
6 Jack Nicholson, $150 million
Jack Nicholson has a taste for modernism and owns several works by Picasso, Matisse, Modigliani, Magritte and Rodin. His recent appraisal placed his entire collection at more than $150 million.
5 Steven Spielberg, $240 million
Spielberg not only artistic references throughout his films, but also collects coins himself. He is known for his admiration for Impressionism as well as Americana, especially the works of Norman Rockwell and Edward Hopper. The works of the two painters could almost replace the still images of some of his films like Dating of the Third Kind Where HEY
4 Oprah Winfrey, $300 million
Oprah’s ever-expanding art collection includes works by Richard Edward Miller, Hovsep Pushman and Gustav Klimt. She has lent some of her pieces to the Museum of Modern Art in New York and to the Neue Galarie. Recently she sold a $150 million Painting by Gustav Klimt auctioned to an anonymous buyer.
3 George Lucas, $600 million
George Lucas’ collection is so extensive that he plans to open a $2 billion museum in Los Angeles. Entitled “Lucas Museum of Narrative Art”, it is expected to open in 2023. The collection will contain a variety of classic and contemporary pieces, including a monumental mural entitled “The Great Wall of Los Angeles” by Judith F. Baca.
2 Jay-Z, $1.4 billion
Along with referencing a variety of artists throughout his songs, Jay-Z has also performed in front of a giant Sculpture by Jeff Koons in 2017. Her personal collection is massive and appears throughout her home. Above his chimney is an icon Andy Warhol play from the Rorschach series. He also recently passed $10,000 auction for a piece by Samuel Levi Jones, leaving his daughter Blue Ivy to place the winning bid.
1 David Geffen, $2.3 billion
David Geffen has one of the most expensive art collections in history at an astonishing price $2.3 billion. Despite selling some of his signature pieces like Jackson Pollock’s “Number 5” and Willem de Kooning’s “Woman III,” his collection still accounts for almost a third of his total net worth.
Although these celebrities retain the highest value, there are a variety of other stars known for their collections and passion for art. Steve Martin is a trustee of the Los Angeles County Museum of Art and a supporter of the Hammer Museum of Los Angeles. Kanye West is a fan of artist James Turrell to whom he gifted $10 million for his ongoing Roden Crater project. Sean “P. Diddy” Combs often attends Art Basel in Miami and paid $21.1 million alone for a painting by Kerry James Marshall. Celebrities and actors seemed to replace the royalty of kings and queens who traditionally funded artists, serving as new millionaire patrons of the arts.
READ NEXT: Leonardo DiCaprio’s Big Art Auction (And 14 Other Celebrities With Personal Art Collections)
The 15 Highest-Grossing Zac Efron Movies
About the Author