Van Gogh - Young peasant woman

Woman III, by Willem de Kooning

Two jewels from Cohen's collection: van Gogh's "Young peasant woman" (1890) and de Kooning's "Woman III"

Paul Gauguin - riders on the beach

Vincent van Gogh - Self-portrait with a bandaged ear

Two masterworks at the Niarchos collection:Gauguin's "riders on the beach" and van Gogh's "Self-portrait"

Rembrandt - self-portrait

Rembrandt's self-portrait owned by the Duke of Sutherland

Goya - portrait of the Duchess of Alba

Francisco de Goya: Portrait of the Duchess of Alba

Joseph Mallor William Turner - La Donna della Salute

Joseph Mallor William Turner - "La donna della Salute",a beautiful work in the Steve Wynn's collection

Velázquez - El Príncipe Baltasar Carlos a caballo

"Prince Baltasar Carlos on horseback" by Velázquez,property of the Duke of Westminster

PRIVATE TREASURES - Top 10 private Art collections

by G. Fernández -
Not all Art masterworks are exhibited in the great museums of the world. Some of them belong to private Art collectors, one of the most expensive and exclusive "hobbies" reserved only to billionaires. From the secular collections of European noblemen to the modern gurus of the contemporary Art world, has created the top 10 of the best private Art collections in the world. 10 private museums that only a few can admire

We have focused on the private collections that are still not exhibited in private foundations or galleries, so in this list you will not find some of the most famous private Art collections, just like the Getty Foundation in California or the E. G Buhrle in Zurich

WILDENSTEIN COLLECTION: Thought to be the best private Art collection in the world, the Wildenstein collection still keeps its aura of mystery. Dealers and collectors for many decades (in addition of ranking among the most polemical members of the jet-set, especially after a, how can I say it, an obviously unsuccessful plastic surgery) the Wildenstein family has amassed a fabled Art collection, valued by several sources at $10 billion. It is said that this "Eldorado of the Arts" could exhibit several masterpieces by some of the most important artists from the 14th to the 20th centuries, such as Van Gogh, Renoir, Gauguin, Cézanne, Monet, a handful of Rembrandts, several Rubens, Caravaggio, El Greco, Fragonard, a recently rediscovered "Madonna and child with saints and the seven virtues" by Giotto di Bondone, or even a work by Vermeer still unknown by the critics.

STEVE COHEN: Mr. Cohen is one of the biggest "predators" of the Art market, a wealthy buyer that has spent hundreds of millions dollars to create one of the best private Art collections in the world. He is the owner of several post-impressionist (Gauguin's "Bathers" or van Gogh's "Young peasant woman") and modern (Munch's "Madonna") masterpieces. But the highlight of his collection is the contemporary Art, including two fabulous canvases by Willem de Kooning ( "Police Gazette" and "Woman III", bought to David Geffen for $64.5 million and $137.5 million), an important "drip" by Jackson Pollock, and the most famous and polemical work by Damien Hirst, "The Physical Impossibility Of Death In the Mind Of Someone Living".

NIARCHOS FAMILY: The heirs of shipping magnate Stavros Niarchos own a remarkable collection of Impressionist and Modern Art, specially his son Phillipe Niarchos. Among the works in the collection we could find three masterworks by Vincent van Gogh ("Self-portrait with a bandaged ear", "Portrait of Pere Tanguy" and "The house of Pére Pilon"), the arguably most important work by Paul Gauguin in private hands ("Riders on the beach") and the self-portrait "Yo, Picasso", bought in 1989 for almost $48 million, as well as the marvelous "Pietá" by El Greco. In recent years, Phillipe Niarchos has completed his collection with works by contemporary artists, like Andy Warhol's "Shot Red Marilyn" or a self-portrait by de Jean Michel Basquiat.

DUKE OF SUTHERLAND: The Duke of Sutherland's collection is arguably the best collection of old master paintings still in private hands. In 2003 the new Duke sold Titian's "Venus Anadyomene" to the National Gallery of Scotland, but he is still the owner of two other masterpieces by Titian, " Diana and Callisto" and "Diana and Actaeon" (update, may 2009: this last work has been purchased by the National Galleries of London and Scotland), a masterful 1657 self-portrait by Rembrandt that is, in my opinion, the most important old master painting still in private hands; the "Bridgewater Madonna" by Raphael and the "Sacraments" series by French master Nicolas Poussin.

CASA DE ALBA: The impressive collection of the Casa de Alba (Alba House) in the Palace of Lira, Madrid, now property of Cayetana Fitz-James Stuart, 18th Duchess of Alba, includes works by Fra Angelico ("Virgin of the grenade"), Titian ("The last supper"), Velázquez ("The infant Margarita"), El Greco, Veronese, Correggio, Rubens, a landscape by Rembrandt, and several Goyas, most notable the portrait of the Duchess of Alba painted in 1795. In recent years the duchess has also purchased works by modern masters such as Picasso or Chagall

ELI BROAD: Arguably the best private collection of contemporary Art in the world. The Broad Art Foundation manages a collection that can be compared with the best museums of contemporary Art, with nearly 2000 works by artists such as Jasper Johns, Robert Rauschenberg, Andy Warhol, Roy Lichstentein or Edward Ruscha, in addition to an important collection of photography.

DAVID GEFFEN: Perhaps the only private collection of contemporary Art that can be compared with Eli Broad's one. Geffen is the owner of several masterpieces by the best artists of the second half of the 20th century, despite having sold two of his most coveted masterpieces (Jackson Pollock's "Number 5" and Willem de Kooning's "Woman III") for $277 million, making them the two most expensive paintings ever sold.

STEVE WYNN: Wynn has been one of the main names in the Art market for more than 10 years, with his spectacular acquisitions for his even more spectacular private gallery at the Bellagio Casino and Hotel in Las Vegas. Highlights from his collection include works by old masters (as an early self-portrait by Rembrandt or the famous "La Donna Della Salute and San Giorgio" by Joseph Mallord William Turner) and masterworks by impressionist and modern masters such as van Gogh, Monet or Picasso. However, it looks like Mr. Wynn is becoming to dissemble his coveted collection, and in the last years he has sold to Steve Cohen (see above) two works by Gauguin and van Gogh, in addition to the famous "elbow incident", when he accidentally damaged Picasso's "La rêvé" ("The dream") when the painting was about to be sold to Mr. Cohen for $137 million.

FRANÇOIS PINAULT: This French billionaire has collected Art for more than 30 years, creating an extraordinary collection of almost 2,500 works of modern and contemporary Art. Since 2006, a selection of 200 works from his outstanding collection, featuring works by Mark Rothko, Lucio Fontana, Jeff Koons or Damien Hirst, among others, is exhibited at the Palazzo Grassi in Venice

CHARLES SAATCHI: We close with list with Charles Saatchi, dealer, collector and guru of the contemporary Art. For the last two decades Saatchi has worked with some of the most famous artists of nowadays -Damien Hirst among them- while creating an amazing collection of contemporary Art. While Saatchi's collection is not as rich in works by the masters of the 60s and 70s as those owned by Eli Broad or David Geffen, for example, it is surely full of "future" masterpieces by the truly contemporary Art. Definitively not the best private collection of today, but perhaps the best collection of tomorrow

Other important private Art collections are those owned by Bernard Arnault (great selection of contemporary Art), Alice Walton (American Art, with the marvelous "Kindred Spirits" by Asher Brown Durand), the great collection of the Duke of Westminster (including the sensational "Prince Baltasar Carlos on horseback" by Diego Velázquez) or George Embiricos, who despite having sold several works in recent years is still the owner of the coveted Paul Cezanne's masterpiece "The Card Players"

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