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Top 200 Collectors

Louise and Leonard Riggio

Louise and Leonard Riggio

Bridgehampton, New York; New York

Retail (Barnes & Noble)

Contemporary art; Modern art

Overview

A native New Yorker, Leonard Riggio founded the Barnes & Noble booksellers chain, and has been a major patron of the Dia Art Foundation, with millions given to the development and opening of the upstate New York museum Dia:Beacon in 2003. For the last two decades, Riggio and his wife, Louise, have amassed an impressive postwar and contemporary collection, works from which are installed at their house in Bridgehampton, New York. Most notably, they’ve installed, on their front lawn, Richard Serra’s massive Sidewinder (1999), which can not only be seen from above the hedges that line the property, but also from Google Earth. In addition to Sidewinder, there’s Willem de Kooning’s massive bronze sculpture Seated Woman (1969–81), and Mark di Suvero’s Caramba (1984–90). 

“I like to buy art by feel more than by sight, and these artists feel a certain way to me, Riggio told ARTnews in 2016. “They relate a lot to other artists only because we’re the same collectors. If it turns out that they knew each other, it happens by accident. We don’t try to make a story, the story is the art itself.” Their formidable collection of American art also includes landmark works by Roy Lichtenstein, Ed Ruscha, Donald Judd, Chuck Close, and Walter De Maria, as well as a wealth of work from Arte Povera and other international movements. Following the announcement of his retirement from the Barnes & Noble board in 2016, Riggio said, “What I’m gonna want to do is spend more time and thought on public art. I’m going to orient our collecting with the idea of putting together collections that can be housed within a single unit, and given to museums and institutions, to do the equivalent of the Rothko Chapel or the Noguchi Museum. That’s kind of my passion.”

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