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Top 200 Collectors

Thomas Olbricht

Thomas Olbricht

Berlin

Doctor of medicine

19th-century art; Contemporary art; Stamps

Overview

Thomas Olbricht, a German endocrinologist, began collecting at age four, buying stamps and little toy cars. In the 1980s, Olbricht started collecting postwar German art, beginning with the work of a local artist named Ruhr Georg Meistermann. He counts among his most notable acquisitions Mit kleinen schwarzen Quadraten (1968), an abstraction by Sigmar Polke, and a work by Cindy Sherman titled Untitled #322, which became the first important photograph in his collection when he bought it 1996 in New York.

He now collects contemporary art and Wunderkammer objects—he owns 300 of these curiosities, some of them dating back to the Renaissance and Baroque periods— and continues to buy stamps, too. In 2010, some of these works were featured in an exhibition devoted to Olbricht’s collection at the Kunsthalle Krems in Austria. Olbricht’s favorite work in his collection is a bronze hourglass from 1620. The work used to belong to the French fashion designer Yves Saint Laurent. Why collect such a diverse array of objects? Olbricht once explained it as such, in an interview with Private Art Investor: “I collect only for myself, for my life, based on my decisions. The next generation has free will to do what they want with it.”

In 2010 Olbricht and his wife founded the Olbricht Collection in Berlin-Mitte, with the intention of sharing their holdings with the public. Occupying just over 13,000 square feet, the private museum has become known for its eclectic offerings. Visitors will find, for example, Sherman’s photography beside works by South African painter Marlene Dumas. “The main goal of our Foundation is: to create a place that is open, warm, lively and welcoming to a broad public at all ages,” Olbricht once told BMW Art Guide.

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