I think the only good billionaire is an art collecting billionaire but I’m biased, I really like art. Forbes business magazine has declared the Wal-Mart heiress Alice Walton to be the richest American art collector with a fortune of $33.5 billion. In the past few years the billionaire has gone from Sunday collector to all out museum collector!
Billy Gates might be the richest American with a fortune of $72 billion but he’s a nerd and doesn’t have an art museum to fill. Alice Walton does have a museum to fill. She officially opened the Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art in Bentonville, Arkansas on 11/11/2011.
According to the art museum’s website they aim to..
Celebrate the American spirit in a setting that unites the power of art with the beauty of nature. We explore the unfolding story of America by actively collecting, exhibiting, interpreting, and preserving outstanding works that illuminate our heritage and artistic possibilities.
The Crystal Bridges Museum has been quick to amass a collection said to be north of $500 million. Admission is free thanks to a sponsorship deal with Wal-Mart. Inheriting a large chunk of a company with 2013 revenues of 469.162 billion sure has its benefits.
I wish a few American billionaires would have a talk to some Australian billionaires about this thing the French call noblesse oblige (I stole that term from Lisa.. makes me sound much more refined than I really am). Australia’s richest woman Gina Rinehart wants the government to sell all its art to pay for essential services, so I won’t be holding my breath waiting for the Gina Rinehart Art Museum!
Here’s a few works from Alice Walton’s Crystal Bridges Museum..
Portrait of George Washington – Gilbert Stuart
Robert Louis Stevenson and His Wife – 1885 – John Singer Sargent
The Reader – 1877 – Mary Cassatt
Excavation at Night – 1908 – George Bellows
Find out what exhibitions are coming up and how to get to the Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art at their website here. There’s also more on the 400 richest Americans and Alice Walton at the Forbes website here.