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Fintech Advisory founder David Martinez is perhaps best known in the art world as the reported buyer of Jackson Pollock’s No. 5, 1948 in 2006 for a record-breaking $140 million, although he adamantly denies that he owns the work. Eight years later, Martínez sold Francis Bacon’s Portrait of George Dyer Talking (1969) for $70 million at Christie’s. He is also said to own work by Damien Hirst, among other blue-chip artists. According to the International Business Times, “many have said that he is following in the footsteps of fellow Mexican tycoon Carlos Slim”—also on the ARTnews Top 200—in attempting “to become the richest man in the world.” He is notoriously private; Mexican media has dubbed him “the ghost investor,” given the scant information available about him.
Martinez has made a career of investing in faltering economies. In 1994, he invested in the Argentinean economy by buying government bonds for $834 million. The move proved fruitful, as he currently holds 40 percent of the Argentinean media group Cablevision. In 2010, Martinez found himself in a legal dispute over the 2007 purchase of Mark Rothko’s Untitled (1961), known as the Red Rothko. The civil case was brought by (longtime ARTnews Top 200 Collector) Marguerite Hoffman. Hoffman agreed to sell the painting in 2006 under an agreement that “all parties agree to make maximum effort to keep all aspects of this transaction confidential indefinitely.” Hoffman filed suit against the buyer, Studio Capital, a Belize-registered company advised by David Martinez, when the Rothko was again sold in a publicized auction at Sotheby’s for $31.4 million, revealing Hoffman’s prior ownership. Hoffman was awarded damages totalling $1.7 million.