Spotlight Collector | First Purchases of Steve Martin, Peggy Guggenheim and Bill Gates


1. Comedic actor Steve Martin on his first artwork purchase: “I found it in an antique store in Los Angeles and loved its mystery. It’s by James Gale Tyler, definitely not one of the important names of 19th century American painting, but perhaps you can understand its tug on a 21-year-old beginning collector. I paid about $750 for it and today, adjusted for inflation, it’s worth about $750.” See original article here.


2. Marguerite “Peggy” Guggenheim, niece of the famous Solomon R. Guggenheim and founder of the Peggy Guggenheim Museum in Venice, began collecting art in her late 30s while abroad in Europe. Her early purchases were done haphazardly, usually unsold pieces from Guggenheim Jeune shows. Her first purchase, made before World War II, was an erotic drawing by Jean Cocteau of a figure on bedsheets, arguably to help get exhibition pieces back through customs. Above is an example from Cocteau’s erotic drawing series, image copyright the ADAGP.


3. Billionaire entrepreneur Bill Gates saw Andrew Wyeth’s Distant Thunder (1961) on the cover of a retrospective catalogue intended to be published in Japan in 1996, and immediately made the purchase. Varying accounts say that he paid between $7 and $9 million dollars for the piece.


Keep your eye on Paddle8 for an upcoming ALAC editorial from LA-based collectors Christopher Yin and John Yoon.