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Top 200 Collectors

Black-and-white portrait of a middle-aged Asian woman and middle-aged white man

Emily and Mitchell Rales

New York; Potomac, Maryland

Global science and technology

Contemporary art; Modern art


Mitchell Rales has been media-shy since 1985, when a Forbes article labeled him and his brother Steven as “raiders in short pants.” Shortly after that article was published, Rales began collecting contemporary art, and his appreciation for the artists he collects appears to be personal. 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 CEOs.”

Works by de Kooning and Pollock, as well as other postwar art giants like Jasper Johns, Ellsworth Kelly, John Baldessari, Robert Rauschenberg, Lee hang alongside more contemporary work by artists like Felix Gonzalez-Torres, Kerry James Marshall, Lorna Simpson, Roni Horn, and Jean-Michel Basquiat, among many others, now figure in the Rales collection. Many of these holdings are on display Glenstone, a museum in Potomac, Maryland, that he founded with his wife, Emily (a former director at New York’s Gladstone Gallery who is now the Glenstone’s director) in 2006. The museum sits on a sylvan estate that was once used by a fox-hunting club, and it was expanded in grand fashion by architect Thomas Phifer’s firm in 2018.

During the May 2019 auctions in New York, the couple snapped up Lee Krasner’s The Eye is the First Circle (1960) for Glenstone; the work went for $11.7 million when it sold at Sotheby’s, and it shattered the artist’s previous auction record. When Jeff Koons’s Rabbit sold for $91.1 million that month at a Christie’s contemporary art sale in New York, rumors flew regarding the anonymous buyer. The winning bid was placed by art dealer Robert Mnuchin, who is known to work with the Raleses, but Mitchell told the Wall Street Journal that the piece would not be heading to Glenstone.