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Top 200 Collectors

Iris and Matthew Strauss

Iris and Matthew Strauss

Rancho Santa Fe, California

Private real estate investments (M.C. Strauss Company)

Contemporary art


What do you do when you buy a sprawling new home that has too much empty wall space? If you are Iris or Matthew Strauss, you start an ambitious art collection. The couple have been collecting contemporary art since 1987, beginning with two Gerhard Richters that have since become among the most illustrious pieces in their possession. Taking shrewd advice from Mary Jane Jacobs at the Museum of Contemporary Art in Los Angeles, they began touring private collections for inspiration. Since then, their collection has expanded to include hundreds of works by internationally recognized artists of various kinds from the 1980s to the present, including paintings by Sigmar Polke, Julian Schnabel, Andy Warhol, and Frank Stella.

In the entry to their foyer stands Antony Gormley’s 6-foot-tall Molecule Man, an arrangement of forged steel balls weighing around 1,600 pounds. (They reportedly had to use a crane and gantry to install the sculpture.) And there is more than enough other artwork to fill the more than 21,000 square feet of residential and gallery space that make up their estate, Rancho del Arte, in California. “Our house is a museum,” Matthew once told San Diego Magazine, “…but when you go into a museum you don’t have to like everything—just take time with the pieces that speak to you, otherwise it’ll wear you out!” The couple also started the Strauss Family Foundation, which promotes the understanding and appreciation of contemporary art, and operates out of a 5,500-square-foot former guest house at the estate.