Isn’t it weird how people, especially, it seems, men, have this impulse to collect things? The Journal today profiles Jose Mugrabi, the owner of the world’s largest private art collection in the world, of Andy Warhols. The son of a grocer and a textile importer, Mugrabi tells the Journal that “art became a refuge” for him while growing up in Bogota, Colombia. His first major Warhol get was Marilyn Monroe (Twenty Times), for which he paid a record-breaking $3.96 million in 1988. Although he has been offered much, much more for it since, he still has it. And how many other Warhols has he amassed?
Mr. Mugrabi furrowed his eyebrows and stared off into a corner of the room. “Esty!” he bellowed. “Warhols, how many do I have?” Less than a minute later, his longtime assistant, Esty Neuman, popped through the door from the reception area holding a printout.
“Eight hundred,” she said, matter of factly.
You see, he keeps them all in a warehouse in Newark.
This kind of gave us the chills, not least because it reminded us of this, um, person we know who had a boyfriend that obsessively trawled eBay in search of a certain type of action figure. This person would only deign to purchase said action figure if it was in its original box, and after he paid an absurd amounts of money for his toy, he would proceed to store the box with the toy in it away in a closet. When asked about it, he made noises about it being an investment, but as far as we know, no sales were ever made, and none of these toys ever made it out of the closet. And probably the person who dated that person really regrets that relationship. But that is not the point. The point is this: Where does this urge to collect and store away come from? We can only imagine that long ago, even cavemen squirreled away the skulls of bison, thinking they were really going to be worth something someday.
The Man With 800 Warhols [WSJ]