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Top 200 Collectors

Black-and-white portrait of an older white

Heidi Goëss-Horten

Carinthia, Austria

Inheritance (department stores)

Contemporary art; Modern art


For years, the art collection of Viennese billionaire Heidi Goëss-Horten, the widow of Horten AG department store giant, Helmut Horten, was a secret, whispered about with great reverence among art dealers and curators. In 2018, the collection finally came into the spotlight when it was the subject of an exhibition entitled “Wow! The Heidi Horten Collection” at the Leopold Museum in Vienna. Her holdings include seminal works by Francis Bacon, Andy Warhol, Jean-Michel Basquiat, Gustav Klimt, and Pablo Picasso. Goëss-Horten primarily collects German Expressionist and American Pop work, and she is an unabashed animal lover—among her holdings are animal sculptures by Francois-Xavier and Claude Lalanne.

According to an interview for Larry’s List, there is both rhyme and reason that drives each new Horten acquisition. “The story behind the artwork had to convince me first,” she said. “All of my artworks are exceptional pieces that mark milestones in an artist’s oeuvre.” She began collecting art alongside her husband in the 1970s. He passed away in 1987, but she she continued acquiring art and became extremely active in the 1990s. She now owns over 500 works. In summer 2019 Goëss-Horten announced plans to open a private museum, having bought a 155-year-old, 22,000-square-foot mansion in Vienna’s city center to house the collection and she expects to open it to the public in early 2022. “Art is not made to be put into storage,” Goëss-Horten told Larry’s List in 2018. “I live with my art—there is no place where I wouldn’t display it.”