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Top 200 Collectors

Black-and-white portrait of a young Black woman and man
Dana Scruggs for ARTnews

Kasseem “Swizz Beatz” Dean and Alicia Keys

La Jolla, California

Record producer and entrepreneur; musician

Contemporary art, with a focus on artists of color


Music power couple Kasseem “Swizz Beatz” Dean and Alicia Keys have been moving swiftly and smartly around the art industry in recent years, minting a panoply of diverse projects. Dean has been experimenting with ways for artists to find buyers for their work without interference from intermediaries by way of what he calls No Commission art fairs around the world, and he’s behind an app called Sm(art) Collection to allow direct sales. As collectors and patrons, Dean and Keys are formidable. Their holdings in what is known as the Dean Collection are focused largely (but not exclusively) on the work of Black artists, including Henry Taylor, Jordan Casteel, Lynette Yiadom-Boakye, Tschabalala Self, Kehinde Wiley, Toyin Ojih Odutola, Arthur Jafa, and Cy Gavin, to name just a few. And they have also assembled the largest private trove of photographs by the pioneering photographer Gordon Parks.

They have also helped to bring their peers into the art-collecting business. When Sean “Diddy” Combs snapped up a Kerry James Marshall at Sotheby’s New York for a record-setting $21.1 million in 2018, it was Dean that steered him toward the work. “It took me 10 years for that to happen,” he told ARTnews in a 2019 profile, discussing the time it took to get Diddy interested in Black art. “I was like, ‘This Kerry James Marshall has to stay in the culture.'” (Diddy’s post-auction quip, according to Dean, was “Don’t expect me to do that every day.”) Dean has also ventured into philanthropic leadership as well, joining the board of the Brooklyn Museum in 2015.