Collector Spotlight: Miami Heat’s Kevin Love

The basketball star and art lover curated the latest edition of Sotheby’s Contemporary Curated sale in New York, happening later this month.

Miami Heat’s Kevin Love is a five-time NBA All-Star, two-time member of the All-NBA Second Team and an Olympic gold medalist. He’s also an experienced art collector who has described his collecting style as “relentlessly curious” and planned the renovation of his New York City home around his collection, according to an Interview with Graham Bensinger.

A man sits in a gallery space in front of an artwork
Love feels strongly about collecting works with a story that resonates with him. Courtesy Sotheby's

Unlike many of his colleagues who eat, sleep and breathe basketball, Love has many passions. Art just happens to be the most visible of them and one he’s been generous about sharing with the world. In an Architectural Digest video filmed in 2020, he discussed his placement of an Anthony Gormley sculpture in his living room and his reasons for hanging pieces by Gordon Parks and Rashid Johnson in his office. Doug Aitken’s EXIT hung over a console table, near works by Tracey Emin, Richard Prince and Ed Ruscha.

Love, who is also an activist in the realm of mental health, has been unsurprisingly forthright about his collecting journey. Art is “a lot like wine—the more you know, the more you realize you don’t know,” he told Bensinger. But around 2015, what he did know was that he wanted to start acquiring art and that before he started in earnest—”navigating the space in a way that would make me happy” as he explained on the TalkArt podcast—he wanted an education in art.

Love chose Alex Katz’s ‘Canoe with Figure’ for Sotheby’s Contemporary Curated auction. Courtesy Sotheby's

Enter British art advisor Jane Suitor, who became Love’s guide to collecting. Early on in their working relationship, she gifted him a copy of Susie Hodge’s Why Your Five Year Old Could Not Have Done That: Modern Art Explained, which inspired an ongoing dialogue between them. She’d send information about artists and he’d reply with questions, never shying away from revealing what he liked and didn’t.

“I wanted him to really have a predominantly Blue Chip collection that could take him throughout his lifetime,” Suitor said in the same episode of TalkArt. “I wanted him to have something really solid to build around.”

However, Love was very much an active participant in building his collection, willing to say no to things that didn’t resonate with him as the two of them spent time in galleries and visited artists’ studios. “If you were to walk into my apartment in New York City, I think you’d get a pretty good sense of who I am as a person and what appeals to me, and also what inspires me,” he said.

Now, Love has taken that same approach as guest curator of Sotheby’s upcoming Contemporary Curated auction—an annual sale that invites an influential figure from outside of the art world to curate a selection of works showcasing their unique taste and interests. The eight post-war and contemporary works Love selected for the sale include paintings, sculpture and photographs representing several styles, by artists like Ruscha and Gormely, as well as Jennifer Packer, Cindy Sherman, Cy Twombly and Mark Grotjahn.

Love also chose Ernie Barnes’ ‘Club 55’ for the sale. Courtesy Sotheby's

Curating the sale was an eye-opening experience, according to the basketball star, who is by all measures an avid collector as well as a humble one.

“Art is discovery,” he said in a statement. “The more you learn the more you realize you haven’t scratched the surface.”

The Contemporary Curated auction will take place at Sotheby’s New York on 28 September with works on view from September 23 through 27.

Collector Spotlight: Miami Heat’s Kevin Love