The trend over the last decade or so where billionaires scoop up vast quantities of art for their own collections was and continues to be a terrible trend. However, many of these collectors are now preparing to show their works to the public in what are being called “ego-seums“.
The new trend comes as the art world sees a major sector shift. While state-funded institutions struggle with budget cuts and dwindling sponsorship, increasing numbers of private collectors are buying contemporary art. This has sent auction prices soaring, making it ever harder for public museums to compete. Countries as far flung as China and Mexico, Greece and Australia have collectors with grandiose plans for museums that reflect their private, often idiosyncratic tastes … Most do not charge admission, whereas public galleries in the UK now face the prospect of imposing entry fees.
David Roberts, one of Britain’s major collectors notes:
“If you have a lot of art you love, which is sitting in a warehouse, you want it to be seen. If you give works to museums or put them on long-term loan, it’s unlikely those works will be on permanent display.”
Free, private museums will make these works much more accessible to everyone. Moreover,
Oliver Barker, senior international specialist at Sotheby’s contemporary art department … believes that collectors such as Dasha Zhukova – Roman Abramovich’s girlfriend, who opened a gallery in a former bus garage in Moscow – are staging world-class exhibitions. “The Rothko show currently there is one of the best international exhibitions of contemporary art I’ve seen anywhere in the world in the last five years,” he said.
This, I believe, is a wonderful trend that should be praised and encouraged.