Philip Niarchos, the eldest son of the Greek shipping magnate, has continued his father’s work, creating the biggest private art collection of the XX century. Its estimated cost is $250 million, and his net worth is estimated at about $2.5 billion. Philip got his passion for art from his parents, Stavros Niarchos and Eugenia Livanos. Sometimes millionaires buy horse stables, helicopters, and dinners with the Stars for their adored children, but Philip Niarchos with brothers grew up in their own museums. Their father, who was in love with the art of the XX century (especially the post-war), collected masterpieces in the family mansions in Athens, Paris, London, and St. Moritz. Thereby, since childhood, Philip had access to the originals by Degas, Cezanne, El Greco, Gauguin, Goya, Monet, Renoir, and many others.
One of the main jewels of the Philip Niarchos art collection is a self-portrait of Picasso titled “Yo Picasso” that was bought by Stavros Niarchos Sr. in 1989 for $47.9 million at Sotheby’s. Philip, respecting his father’s passion for the so-called “selfies” of ingenious artists, several years later bought self-portraits of Vincent van Gogh (about $90 million) and Jean-Michel Basquiat ($3.3 million). It’s interesting that the price paid for the Basquiat’s painting was 5.5 times higher than the average cost for the artist’s works. By this purchase, Philip brought Basquiat to the list of the most expensive post-war artists of the XX century.
Moreover, it is thought that the Niarchos family owns the largest private collection of works by Vincent van Gogh, including his “Self-portrait with Bandaged Ear.” Despite the fact that they do not disclose the exact list of masterpieces in their collection, this dynasty cannot be called greedy. Thus, in the 90s, they gave five works by the Dutch artist to the Van Gogh Museum for the retrospective in honor of the centenary of the crazy genius’s death. Among the works were the mentioned self-portrait and no less famous “Portrait of Pere Tanguy.”
In 1994, the Philip Niarchos art collection was complemented with Andy Warhol’s “Marilyn Red” bought at Christie’s for $3.63 million. In 2007, the collector spent $17 million for the “Green Burning Car I” (1963), thus setting a record price for the works by Warhol. So, as you can see, the collection is constantly renewed. Outdated works are sold, and modern masterpieces that should increase in price are bought just in time. As a result, the collection and its owners become richer. It is also worth noting that the king of shipbuilding business is officially a member of the Board of Trustees at the NYC Museum of Modern Art. Besides, Philip Niarchos is an International Council Member of London’s Tate Gallery. The collector often appears on the exhibition openings, but you won’t find him at the auction sales: all purchases and sales are carried out by professional curators. In this way, although Philip loves art, he does not like too much attention to his private art collection.