It’s perhaps a little surprising that Bill Gautreaux, the president of a liquids and crude business unit in Kansas City, and a founder of leading energy firm Inergy, studied history and philosophy at the University of Science and Arts of Oklahoma, which he attended on a tennis scholarship. After graduation, Gautreaux bartended and taught tennis on the side, finally getting a part-time telemarketing job at the propane supplier company Ferrellgas, where he met his current Inergy partner. Gautreaux sits on the board of trustees at two museums in Kansas City: the Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art and the Kemper Museum of Contemporary Art. He and his wife, Christy, started collecting 20 years ago; their first purchase was a painting by Belizean artist Walter Castillo, snapped up before the paint had even dried. The couple recently began construction on a new home with a built-in gallery and spaces big enough to house large-scale installations. The Gautreauxes organized an exhibition of selections from their collection titled “Piece by Piece” at the Kemper Museum this year, and also have works on loan to the Nelson-Atkins Museum and lent to a few exhibitions at the Venice Biennale.
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