Wealthiest Art World Figures Highlighted In The Sunday Times Rich List

Times Rich List Art Collectors

The latest edition of The Sunday Times Rich List again illuminates the fluctuating fortunes of the UK’s wealthiest individuals, including prominent figures in the art world. The annual rankings, meticulously compiled by a team of researchers and journalists, estimate the net worth of the 350 richest people based on a comprehensive assessment of their assets.

At the pinnacle of the art world on this year’s list is Leonard Blavatnik, who has ascended to the number two spot with an estimated fortune of £29.246 billion. Blavatnik’s wealth, primarily derived from investments in the aluminium and oil sectors during the 1990s, continues to grow. Last year, his fortune was valued at £28.625 billion, positioning him at number three.

Blavatnik has been a notable patron of the arts in the UK, providing substantial support to various projects and institutions. His contributions include a £10 million donation to the Courtauld Gallery in London, resulting in the creation of the Blavatnik Fine Rooms, and a more than £50 million gift to Tate Modern for its extension, known as the Blavatnik Building, which opened in 2016. Additionally, he has supported the Lightroom digital art experience at King’s Cross in London and recently donated £10 million to the National Portrait Gallery’s Inspiring People project.

However, Blavatnik’s influence extends beyond philanthropy. According to The Washington Post, he was among a group of business leaders who urged New York City Mayor Eric Adams in April to address pro-Palestinian protests at Columbia University. A spokeswoman for Blavatnik clarified that he did not partake in discussions about private investigators and was unaware of such matters being raised during related conversations.

Other prominent art world figures on the Rich List include collectors Poju and Anita Zabludowicz, who remain steady at number 115 with an estimated fortune of £1.495 billion. The Zabludowiczs, who began collecting in 1994, now possess over 8,000 works by 600 artists. Last year, they closed their gallery space in North London.

Denise Coates, founder of the online gambling giant Bet365, appears at number 20 with a net worth of £7.467 billion, down from £8.795 billion in 2023. Coates is known for her philanthropy in the arts, having established the Denise Coates Exhibition Galleries at the Courtauld Gallery in London. Despite Bet365 posting a £72.6 million loss attributed to high pay, investment costs, and charitable giving, Coates remains a significant figure on the list.

Hans Rausing of the Tetra Pak dynasty is another notable name. He is ranked at number 16 and has a fortune of £9.188 billion. Rausing and his late wife Julia have been generous donors to institutions such as the Royal Academy of Arts and the National Gallery in London.

Elisabeth Murdoch, daughter of media magnate Rupert Murdoch and founder of the Freelands Foundation, is valued at £1.2 billion, placing her at number 143. Notably absent from this year’s list is artist Damien Hirst, who was ranked 409th in 2020 with an estimated wealth of £315 million.

The Sunday Times elaborates on its methodology: “The compilers of the Rich List measure identifiable wealth, whether land, property, racehorses, art, or significant shares in publicly quoted companies. We exclude bank accounts to which we have no access and small shareholdings in a private equity portfolio. The actual size of their fortunes may be much larger than our conservative figures.”

This year’s report also notes a significant decline in the number of billionaires, with the count falling from 177 in 2022 to 165, marking the largest drop in the guide’s 36-year history.

Top Photo Courtesy The Blavatnik Family Foundation

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