“Size Matters,” an article by Georgina Adam that was published on The Art Newspaper‘s website today, brought The Observer a touch of sadness, not so much because of its subject–the growing popularity of gargantuan, overwrought artworks, which we just blindly accept (and try to ignore) these days–but for this quote, which comes from museum consultant András Szántó:
“Just as we love, today, going to those medieval churches, perhaps one day our descendants will love going to a museum originally founded by a hedge-funder in the early 21st century.”
The problem is that this idea, however beautiful, may be a false dream: hedge-fund managers just aren’t building many museums.
Instead, it’s the paper magnates (Peter Brant with his private Greenwich, Connecticut, museum), hoteliers (the Rubells and their Miami warehouse), and Walmart heiresses (Alice Walton with her soon-to-be-unveiled Crystal Bridges museum) that are creating museums. In fact, of the “10 Best Private Museums” spotlighted by Flavorpill’s Paul Laster today, not one was founded, strictly speaking, by a hedge-funder.
To be fair, New York has at least one museum-like that was founded by a hedge fund manager, the nonprofit FLAG Art Foundation in Chelsea, which was started by financier Glenn Fuhrmann, the director of MSD Capital, the investment firm of computer entrepreneur Michael Dell.
Instead of setting up their own museums, many hedge fund managers are approaching cultural philanthropy in a more traditional way: loaning work to, and joining the boards of, museums that were founded by the super wealthy of a distant era.