Udo Brandhorst’s late wife, Anette Brandhorst, was an heir to the fortune of Henkel, a Germany company that produces various consumer goods. Among the brands in its U.S. portfolio are major detergent brands (All, Snuggle, Purex), beauty and hygiene products (Dial, Right Guard, Sexy Hair), and adhesives (Loctite).
That inheritance, along with his earnings in the insurance industry, allowed the couple to put together a formidable collection of modern and contemporary art comprising some 1,000 pieces, including more than 100 pieces by Andy Warhol, including examples from various series: a camouflage Last Supper and portraits of Marilyn Monroe, Elizabeth Taylor and Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis. They began collecting avant-garde works from the first part of the 20th century in the 1970s and then moved into collecting contemporary art. No doubt both of their favorite artist was the American painter and sculptor Cy Twombly, which led them to acquire some of the most important works by Twombly outside the United States. Among them are 12 large canvases of the “Lepanto Cycle,” which required a special gallery be built to properly house them.
Anette passed away in 1999, and Udo donated a number of works to the German state of Bavaria, which built the impressive Museum Brandhorst in Munich to house the collection as well as present temporary exhibitions. The museum opened a decade later in 2009, showing off the impressive holdings in their collection, including work by Sigmar Polke, Gerhard Richter, Joseph Beuys, Bruce Nauman, Mike Kelley, Cady Noland, Jeff Koons, Katharina Fritsch, Robert Gober, and Damian Hirst. In a 2019 interview, the museum’s director, Achim Hochdörfer, said that its collection had grown from the 700 works donated by Brandhorst to some 1,200.