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Top 200 Collectors

Black-and-white portrait of a middle-aged Black
Brian Guido

Arthur Lewis and Hau Nguyen

Los Angeles

Entertainment; Hair salons

Contemporary art with a focus on artists of color

Overview

Los Angeles–based collecting couple Arthur Lewis and Hau Nguyen have built their collection by trial-and-error. In an interview with the New York Times, the businessmen said he had received some harsh advice about a decade ago from another collector, Joy Simmons, who was less than impressed with their collection that included Jeff Koons and and Paul McCarthy, among others, at the time. “Joy told us we have to take everything off our walls and start all over again,” Lewis said. “She said we have an opportunity to make some impact by collecting artists who are not getting their moment to shine, artists in our own community.” They took the advice to heart, and today their collection boasts pieces by emerging and established Black artists including Amy Sherald, Kerry James Marshall, Amoako Boafo, and Genevieve Gaignard.

In 2012, Hua and Lewis renovated their Los Angeles home to create even more room for their ever-expanding collection. A signature work at the home’s entrance, greets visitors: Titus Kaphar’s 10-foot-wide painting Enough About You (2016), a riff on a 18th-century painting of  showing Elihu Yale, the merchant and slave trader who was a benefactor to Yale University, which owns the original painting. In Kaphar’s rendition, much of the painting has been crumpled up, including the part showing Yale, and the focus is instead on a young Black boy, who is shown in a golden frame.

The couple are considered fixtures—and important supporters—of the Los Angeles art community, only buoyed by a job that Lewis recently took up. In 2019, Lewis, a former merchandising executive at the Gap, was named the the creative director of UTA Fine Arts, a talent agency that represents visual artists, and its exhibition space UTA Artist Space. And Nguyen owns a collection of boutique hair salons.

 

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