Meeting: George Economou
The Economist, George Economou
Described as a tycoon by The Economist, George Economou heads the holding company DryShips Inc., specialising in the shipping industry. Though his talents are inherent in his Greek origins, George Economou cultivated them at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, emerging with two Masters of Science in transport and naval engineering.
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A billionaire is never ignored – still less when he is a collector. This twofold status has often provided excessively fertile soil for the media. The Greek adds further to his own legend by buying something of everything on a large scale, from 15th century Flemish painting to contemporary art. The names of Lucas Cranach, Delacroix, Duchamp, Picasso, Magritte, Brassaï, Warhol, Gerhard Richter, Rauschenberg and David La Chapelle don't often rub shoulders with the Primitive Arts, Edmund Adler and Johann Sperl – artists considerably more obscure. According to the columnists, he caught the collecting bug around fifteen years ago, and went at it recklessly right from the start, as his collection now contains nearly 2,500 works. In February 2011, the people of Athens discovered him for the first time with astonishment, and the media freely criticised a collection that was so disparate, to say the least. But the wild enthusiasm of his beginnings has now given way to the age of reason: for George Economou has opened an art centre in the suburbs of Athens. His choices have narrowed down to the 20th century, united by a socio-cultural theme. His trump card is unquestionably German Expressionism. He achieved a master stroke in buying the 500-odd engravings of Otto Dix from the Berlin dealer Florian Karsch, then in his eighties, thus becoming the artist's leading collector. This was perhaps decisive in his refocusing on artists of the same vein. With the founding of a contemporary art centre, the billionaire has the makings of a connoisseur who is not merely content to stock up on masterpieces. It's no longer a matter of simply participating in the ceremonial liturgies of exhibition previews and sale rooms.
He is now up there with the leaders, where to appreciate the present, you have to contribute to creating it.
Will the latest Salon do better than the previous ones? It's hard to say, especially in an economic downturn. But the Paris fair has succeeded in setting the bar ever higher over the years. In 2012, the professionals unanimously acclaimed a positive result, marked by a higher attendance rate, good sales, and the return of American buyers, while the presence of representatives from the top museums confirmed the excellence of the works on offer.
TEFAF 2013 report: the world's most famous non-specialist art fair suffers from bad weather this year.
The first major retrospective of an auction room star since the 1980 show in New York, the Eileen Gray exhibition at the Centre Pompidou fulfils all its promises.
Greek billionaire George Economou has given a new dimension to his collection by creating an art centre, with a programme focused firmly on contemporary art
Clémence d’Ennery's passion inspired a collection of Far Eastern art that became a life's work, together with the mansion housing it.
The Howard Greenberg collection is exposed to Paris (photography and digital video capital).
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