Sheri and Howard Schultz
Beverages (Starbucks Coffee Company); philanthropy (Schultz Family Foundation)
Little is known about the finer points of the buying habits of Starbucks coffee billionaire—and onetime candidate for President of the United States—Howard Schultz, though he has liked to stalk the booths at the Seattle Art Fair. His considerable clout as a private collector helped elevate Seattle’s status as a cultural destination and a place for potential art dealings too—Jeffrey Deitch, the former director of the Museum of Contemporary Art in Los Angeles, told the Seattle Times that Schultz (along with the late Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen) made the city “a natural place for an art fair.” If Schultz’s approach to snapping up canvases is anything like his house-buying habits, he doesn’t hold back. In 2015, he dropped $25 million on a 10,600-square-foot Hawaiian dream mansion—with, presumably, a lot of empty wall space to fill. And now he has more time to collect since, in April 2017, he stepped down as Starbucks CEO to become executive chairman with a focus on social-impact initiatives and matters related to the line Starbucks Reserve.
Some Top 200 collectors have been known to make forays into the political arena, and Schultz joined the ranks when he threw his hat into the 2020 U.S. Presidential race as a potential candidate. But after three back surgeries, his campaign announced in June 2019 that it would take a summer hiatus while he recovered. And in September, after months of considering a run as a “centrist independent,” Schultz announced that he would not in fact launch a campaign to rule the land. The episode did shed some light on his art collection, though, when Politico reported that a former art-inclined Starbucks employee—who worked for the company before Schultz got involved—attempted to “heal the rift” between the company’s old boho culture and its new corporate guard: “Because there were so many artists working there, I proposed they sponsor a show, ‘the Artists of Starbucks.’ I got an audience with Howard. He spent the entire 15 minutes talking about his art collection.”