Mitchell Rales has been media-shy since 1985, when a Forbes article labeled him and his brother Steven as “raiders in short pants.” It was just shortly after that occurrence that Rales began collecting contemporary art. His appreciation appears to be personal in nature. As Rales told the New York Times in 2012, “Back in the 1940s and ’50s artists like de Kooning and Pollock were considered outcasts and revolutionaries. My brother and I were seen as two upstarts in a world of older CEO’s.” Works by Willem de Kooning and Jackson Pollock, as well as Jasper Johns, Ellsworth Kelly, John Baldessari, Robert Rauschenberg, and Felix Gonzalez-Torres, among many others, now adorn the walls of Glenstone, the private museum of Rales and his wife, Emily, a former Gladstone Gallery director who serves as Glenstone’s director. The original museum building, which opened in 2006, has, in fact, proved insufficient to house the Rales’s collection of over 800 works. A second building, five times as big as the first, is currently under construction.

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Emily and Mitchell Rales

New York; Potomac, Maryland

Source of wealth:
Tool industry

Collecting area:
Modern and contemporary art

Top 200 appearance:
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Fun fact:

Why would Mitchell Rales dedicate over $125 million to adding a second building to Glenstone? “I don’t want to be the richest guy in the cemetery,” he told the Times.