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    The Top 25 Photo Collectors

    The most active, committed—and obsessed.

    Sondra Gilman and Celso Gonzalez-Falla’s Main Street, Saratoga Springs, New York, 1931, by Walker Evans.

    COURTESY SONDRA GILMAN AND CELSO GONZALEZ-FALLA

    Who are the world’s top photography collectors? ARTnews surveyed prominent dealers, auction specialists, and museum curators to find out. The list represents a disparate lot—from connoisseurs who started in the 1970s, when the market for photography first emerged, to aficionados such as New York financier Thomas H. Lee and his wife, Ann Tenenbaum, who in recent years have joined the ranks from other areas of interest, particularly postwar and contemporary art.

    “It’s a very different group from that of five years ago,” says San Francisco dealer Jeffrey Fraenkel of the 25 collectors, who were selected based on how active they are rather than the size or value of their collections. “No medium is isolated unto itself. For the last 160 years, photography has been inextricably bound with other arts—a fact that is becoming ever clearer.”

    Some of those on the list take a broad, historical approach to their collecting. Others mine a specific interest. Los Angeles film producer Bruce Berman and his wife, Nancy, share a penchant for William Eggleston. New York physicist Michael Mattis and his wife, Judith Hochberg, are especially fond of Edward Weston. Henry Buhl, a retired New York investment banker and longtime collector, likes images of hands, while San Francisco real-estate investor Paul Sack says he favors photographs with buildings in them.

    What distinguishes these top 25 is “their level of activity, the degree of their commitment, and the time and energy they spend,” says New York dealer Howard Greenberg. They “follow their hearts and can talk to you about their collections,” adds Anne Wilkes Tucker, curator of photography at the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston. “They know what they have bought and why.” What ends up hanging in their homes often only hints at the depth of their passion. “You know you are truly obsessed,” Mattis notes, “when you buy something that is destined for your print cabinet—not your wall.”

    Bruce and Nancy Berman
    Los Angeles
    Film
    20th century, particularly postwar American; contemporary

    Claude Berri
    Paris
    Film
    19th and 20th century, particularly Surrealism

    Henry Buhl
    New York
    Investment banking (retired); commercial photography
    19th and 20th century; contemporary

    Carla Emil and Rich Silverstein
    San Francisco
    Advertising
    20th century; contemporary

    Robert Fisher
    San Francisco
    Apparel (The Gap)
    20th century; contemporary

    Danielle and David Ganek
    Greenwich, Connecticut
    Money management
    20th century; contemporary

    Sondra Gilman and Celso Gonzalez-Falla
    New York; Corpus Christi, Texas; Kingsland, Georgia
    Inheritance; real-estate development
    20th century; contemporary

    Ydessa Hendeles
    Toronto
    Investments
    19th and 20th century; contemporary

    Matthew R. Isenburg
    Hadlyme, Connecticut
    Auto dealer
    19th century, particularly daguerreotypes

    Elton John
    Old Windsor and London, England; Atlanta
    Entertainment
    20th century; contemporary

    Baroness Marion and Baron Philippe Lambert
    Geneva
    Banking
    19th and 20th century; contemporary

    Saundra B. Lane
    Boston
    Manufacturing
    20th century; contemporary

    Thomas H. Lee and Ann Tenenbaum
    New York; East Hampton, New York; Palm Beach, Florida; Lincoln, Massachusetts
    Finance
    20th century; contemporary

    Bruce Lundberg
    New Haven, Connecticut
    Hematology
    19th-century Italian; American daguerreotypes

    Martin Z. Margulies
    Key Biscayne, Florida
    Real-estate development
    20th century; contemporary

    Michael Mattis and Judith Hochberg
    Westchester County, New York
    Science
    19th and 20th century

    Richard and Ronay Menschel
    New York
    Investment banking
    19th and 20th century

    John and Lisa Pritzker
    San Francisco
    Hotel and service industry (Hyatt; Ticketmaster)
    20th century; contemporary

    Paul Sack
    San Francisco
    Real-estate investor
    19th and 20th century

    Gary B. Sokol
    San Francisco
    Investment management
    19th-century European; 20th century

    Howard Stein
    New York; Santa Barbara
    Investment banking
    19th and 20th century; contemporary

    Sheikh Saud Al Thani
    Doha, Qatar; London
    Particularly 19th century; 20th century; contemporary

    Thomas Walther
    Berlin
    Inheritance (machine-tool manufacturing)
    Particularly 19th century; 20th century; contemporary

    Michael and Jane Wilson
    London; Los Angeles
    Film
    19th and 20th century

    Gary and Sarah Wolkowitz
    New York
    Apparel (Hot Sox)
    19th and 20th century; contemporary

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