What would become Leslie Wexner’s retail empire began in 1963 with the opening of a single store. Likewise, what has become Wexner and his wife Abigail’s extraordinary art collection began in 1978 with the purchase of a single work, Willem de Kooning’s Pink Lady (ca. 1944). The couple, a selection of whose holdings were displayed at Ohio’s Wexner Center in 2014, had many works by artists from the New York School—Franz Kline and Mark Rothko among—but they gave them up to support a new focus of their collection: Picasso. “My feeling was, and still is, that when you look at Picasso, you realize that he was the true founder of modern and contemporary art,” Wexner told the Wall Street Journal. “I made a conscious decision to follow him.”

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Abigail and Leslie H. Wexner

Columbus, Ohio

Source of wealth:
Retail (L brands)

Collecting area:
Modern European art; contemporary American art

Top 200 appearance:
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Fun fact:

“When I was a kid,” Leslie Wexner told the Wall Street Journal, “I could draw reasonably well, but my mother said she would only agree to let me study art if I would also take piano, so we stalemated. I never got art lessons.”