Karen and Christian Boros
Advertising, communications, and publishing
Karen and Christian Boros have a reputation for collecting art that many other high-profile collectors are more likely to avoid: from the experimental to the untested. “I like artists that make it difficult for me at first,” Christian, the German advertising maestro, told the New York Times in 2007. “Artists that challenge me, question my conventions and show me something new.”
In the early 200s, when seeking a site to house their formidable collection of contemporary art, which clocks in at over 700 works, the couple looked at an array of off-kilter venues, including a locomotive factory and drained swimming pool. They eventually settled on a former Nazi bunker in Berlin’s city center, which they purchased in 2003. The venue had played host to raves and sex parties in the 1990s and had “a reputation as the hardest club in the world,” according to the collection’s website. The space measures more than 30,000 square feet and was retrofitted by Berlin-based architecture firm Realarchitektur, which added an airy glass penthouse on the structure’s roof, where the couple lives with their son Anton.
The space open in 2008 and its inaugural exhibition featured work by Olafur Eliasson, Robert Kusmirowski, and Sarah Lucas, among many others. The show was a clear success, attracting around 120,000 visitors during its four-year run. Visiting the Boros collection bunker can be its own challenge; access through the doors is restricted to 12 people at a time, and pre-booked tickets often sell out weeks in advance. The Boros couple continues to add to their sprawling collection, which includes numerous pieces by Danh Vo, Elizabeth Peyton, Wolfgang Tillmans, and others. When a New Yorker magazine writer visited the collection in 2015, he encountered “a slowly disintegrating spinning rubber tire by Michael Sailstorfer.”
During the coronavirus pandemic, the collectors helped organize an exhibition at Berlin’s storied club Berghain, where works by over 100 local artists went on view in 2020.