Skip to main content

Top 200 Collectors

Black-and-white portrait of a middle-aged white man.
Alberto Saiz/AP/Shutterstock

Ernesto Bertarelli

Gstaad, Switzerland

Biotech and investments

Contemporary art; Modern art


Ernesto Bertarelli has been hard at work for much of his life. His employment with his father’s pharmaceutical company Serono started at the age of six, when he was recruited to hand out the firm’s employee-of-the-year awards. By 31, Bertarelli had taken over his father’s position as Serono’s chief executive. Still, as he told the Financial Times in 2010, Bertarelli believes that “it’s important to have other things, not just work. . . . You can’t always be behind your desk.” 

One of Bertarelli’s “other things” is a vast collection of modern and contemporary art. Though like many of the collectors on the Top 200, he keeps a low-profile when it comes to his collecting, and little is known of what exactly he owns.  

Another passion of his is sailing, and Bertarelli now owns one of the world’s great sailing teams, Alinghi, which won the last two editions of the America’s Cup, at a likely cost of more than $100 million per campaign.“I got into [sailing] before I really knew how to walk,” he said in the FT interview. “My father was a sailor and our summer vacations were always on a sailboat. I had a little boat before I had a moped.” In recognition of his victories, Bertarelli was named Chevalier de la Légion d’honneur by French President Jacques Chirac  in 2003

Bertarelli and his sister, Dona, expanded the company’s revenues to $2.4 billion before selling it for over $13 billion in 2007. Now they co-chair the Bertarelli Foundation, which focuses on marine conservation and research. According to his online Forbes profile, as of October 2019, the biotech investor has a net worth projected as $8.1 billion.