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Top 200 Collectors

Lawrence J. Ellison

Lawrence J. Ellison

Woodside, California

Software

Ancient to early 20th-century Japanese art; Late 19th- and early 20th-century European art

Overview

Lawrence (or Larry, as he’s also known) Ellison is a programmer and internet entrepreneur best known as the chief executive officer of the database vendor Oracle between 1977 and 2014. (He is still chairman of the company’s board.) As of December 2019, Forbes reported Ellison’s net worth to be $68.4 billion, making him the fifth wealthiest person in the world—and the fourth wealthiest in tech. In 2013, 60 works from Ellison’s collection, some dating back more than 1,000 years, were displayed in an exhibition titled “In the Moment: Japanese Art From the Ellison Collection” at the Asian Art Museum of San Francisco. It was the first time his private holdings were made available for public viewing, and the exhibit included a wooden Buddhist sculpture, from the 13th century, depicting Prince Shōtoku, a figure from Japan’s classical Asuka period, and 18th-century paintings by Maruyama Okyo and Ito Jakuchu. 

Ellison’s interest in Japan can be traced to a trip he took in the 1970s, as Emily Sano, a former director of the Asian Art Museum who began worked as a consultant on Ellison’s for a number of years in the late 2000s, once told the Wall Street Journal. Asked about his favorite holdings, Sano guessed two works: a pair of folding screens from Japan’s Edo period (1603-1868) depicting a dragon and a tiger. Ellison also collects real estate, cars, planes, and yachts. A basketball fan, Ellison twice tried to buy the New Orlean Hornets but was turned down both times to his disappointment. He does own a tennis stadium in Southern California, though.

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