Ella Fontanals-Cisneros was born in Cuba, but fled to Venezuela at the age of 16 with her family during the Cuban Revolution. She currently lives in Miami, where she and her family founded the nonprofit Cisneros Fontanals Art Foundation (CIFO) in 2002. (The foundation had a permanent exhibition space in the Floridian city from 2005 to 2018.) Fontanals-Cisneros began collecting art in 1999 and has since become “one of the heaviest hitters on the Miami scene,” according to a 2007 profile in W magazine. Works in her enormous collection often appear in shows organized by CIFO, and include pieces by Vik Muniz, John Baldessari, Olafur Eliasson, and Ai Weiwei. She also opened Miami Art Central (MAC), whose resources she later donated to Miami Art Museum under the program name MAC@MAM. In 2018, she announced that she would donate works from her collection to the Spanish state, which would form an exhibition space, the Contemporary Art Collection for Americas, to display them in Madrid.

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Ella Fontanals-Cisneros

Gstaad, Switzerland; Madrid; Miami

Source of wealth:
Investments, real estate, telecommunications, and technology

Collecting area:
Global contemporary art, with an emphasis on conceptual art, photography, and video; art from Latin America, especially geometric abstraction, Cuban art, and contemporary and emerging artists

Top 200 appearance:
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Fun fact:

“I remember locking myself in a closet during a fight with my mother when I was 12 or 13,” Fontanals-Cisneros told W in the same profile. “While I was in that closet, I had this vision of what my life was going to be like. It was like watching a film. I got this confidence that I could do anything, that it would be easy for me.”