London; Moscow; New York
Steel, mining, investments, technology, and professional soccer (Chelsea Football Club)
With an estimated net worth of some $12.3 billion in 2020, Roman Abramovich is among the most deep-pocketed art collectors in the game, and he’s believed to have snapped up quite a few trophy artworks at auction over the years (though confirmation is always a bit tricky in this business). Among his reported acquisitions, in 2008, are Lucian Freud’s Benefits Supervisor Sleeping (1995) for $33.6 million at Christie’s New York, and the following day, a 1976 Francis Bacon triptych for a cool $86.3 million at Sotheby’s New York, which at the time set a record for the most expensive work of postwar art sold at auction. His early forays into the art world include having sponsored two exhibitions of Russian photography at London’s Somerset House, one of photographs by Soviet photographer Max Penson, and the other, a group show titled “Quiet Resistance: Russian Pictorial Photography 1900s–1930s.”
In 2008 Abramovich, with his then wife, fellow Top 200 collector Dasha Zhukova, opened the Garage Center for Contemporary Culture in Moscow as a way to invigorate the city’s downtown art scene. As their status in the art world continued to skyrocket, the couple purchased, according to Bloomberg, a swath of approximately 40 works by Ilya Kabakov, valued between $30 million and $60 million, from John L. Stewart, a U.S. collector with strong holdings in Russian art. When Abramovich and Zhukova announced their separation in August 2017 after 10 years, many art-world observers said it could be Britain’s most expensive split ever. (The couple were listed together on the Top 200 from 2011 until 2016.) In 2018 Abramovich was listed as an oligarch on the U.S. Treasury’s “Kremlin Report,” which compiled the names of individuals who hold significant roles in Russia’s economy.