Peter M. Brant
Peter M. Brant, the heir to his father’s paper fortune, made his first big windfall playing the stock market in college, and with that windfall purchased two Warhols and a Franz Kline. He has been collecting contemporary art ever since. Over the years, Brant would become one of the foremost collectors of work by Andy Warhol. In fact, he purchased so many Warhols that the artist asked to meet him, and the two struck up a friendship. In 1976, Brant commissioned the Pop artist to paint his cocker spaniel, Ginger. Brant would later help produce the Jed Johnson–directed film Andy Warhol’s Bad with Warhol in 1977.
Brant also has commissioned major works by artists like Urs Fischer and Maurizio Cattelan. Inspired by the hunting trophies Brant had mounted on his walls, Cattelan made the piece informally known as Trophy Wife, in which a wax-cast sculptural bust of Seymour juts from the wall. His collection, part of which is housed at the Brant Foundation Art and Study Center in Greenwich, Connecticut, includes numerous works by Warhol, Jean-Michel Basquiat, and Jeff Koons. In 1993, Brant and his wife, supermodel Stephanie Seymour, commissioned a duplicate of Koons’s iconic, monumental Puppy that sits outside the Guggenheim Bilbao and is made of thousands of flowering plants, requiring tens of thousands of dollars of yearly maintenance, and which sits on the gounds of the Connecticut space. In 2019, Brant opened a second space of his foundation in New York’s East Village neighborhood, with a Basquiat exhibition.
On the business front, Brant acquired companies voraciously until the family business, White Birch Paper, became the second largest producer of newsprint. He also entered into the game of magazine publishing. He purchased Interview magazine from the Warhol estate, shortly after the artist’s death in 1987. He named Ingrid Sischy, who was the editor of Artforum from 1979 until 1988, as the editor-in-chief of Interview, a position she would hold for 18 years until Sischy and Brant’s wife at the time, Sandra, struck up an affair and sold Sandra’s shares in the magazine back to Brant. Brant owned Interview until May 2018 when it declared bankruptcy; it was relaunched that September by his daughter, Kelly. (Brant also owned several art magazines, including Art in America, which he merged into a single company with ARTnews in 2015. He was the chairman of ARTnews’s parent company from 2015 to 2018, when he sold it to PMC.)
Brant has also produced several art-related films including two artist bio-pics: 1996’s Basquait, starring Jeffrey Wright in the titular role, and 2000’s Pollock, with Ed Harris playing the Abstract Expressionist. (Both actors would later co-star together on HBO’s Westworld.) He also was the executive producer on an episode 0f the documentary series American Masters about the life of Andy Warhol.