This work by Roy Lichtenstein shows a close-up of a couple tightly embracing as the blonde woman sheds a few tears.Kiss V © Roy Lichtenstein 1964
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Almost thirty years after his death, Roy Lichtenstein remains the art world’s darling; his work holds a revered place in public and private collections globally, underlining his undiminished popularity. His artworks resonate with all kinds of audiences, who see in them a blend of cultural critique and aesthetic pleasure. While it is difficult to know who privately owns Lichtensteins as many collectors choose privacy, some have been outspoken about their passion for the artist and his presence in their collections. This has cemented Lichtenstein's status as a coveted artist whose works symbolise artistic innovation and personal taste around the world.

A large, metal sculpture of an African mask by Roy Lichtenstein.Image © ArtBasel / Ritual Mask © Roy Lichtenstein 1992

Elton John

Elton John first emerged as a musical prodigy, earning a Royal Academy of Music scholarship at 11. By the late 1960s, he launched an illustrious career – especially with his 1970 breakthrough album featuring Your Song. Known for his flamboyant stage presence and extravagant style, John has become a music and cultural icon, accumulating numerous awards including multiple Grammys, a Tony, an Oscar and a knighthood for his musical and charitable contributions. His activism, notably through the Elton John AIDS Foundation, has made significant impacts in AIDS research and LGBTQ+ rights. Open about his personal struggles and recovery from addiction, John's resilience and influence extend beyond music to fashion, art and mentorship. Holding records as the most successful solo artist in US Billboard history and for the best-selling single Candle in the Wind (1997), his legacy is unmatched.

John is also known as an avid collector, particularly of photography, and some of his collection has recently come up for sale at Christie’s. Much of his collection is characterised by its flamboyance and deep roots in queer culture, spanning an eclectic mix of art, fashion and memorabilia that is reflective of his personal style and passionate support for the arts. His collection, which also includes performance outfits and fashion items, blurs the lines between fashion and art. John's art collection features works by contemporary and 20th-century icons like Nan Goldin, Tracey Emin, Keith Haring, Andy Warhol, and Jean-Michel Basquiat, highlighting themes of love, sexuality and identity. Additionally, John's significant interest in photography has led to the creation of the Sir Elton John and David Furnish Photography Collection, one of the world's premier private photography collections. His role as a collector extends his identity as an artist and activist, showcasing a legacy of openness and support for the creative arts and LGBTQ+ community, making his collections a vibrant representation of his life and the causes he champions. It is possible that there are more items, but it is known that John owns Lichtenstein’s 1992 sculpture Ritual Mask, which takes pride of place in the living room of his house in Nice, France.

This painting shows a red-haired woman on the phone, as she says he speech bubble with the title.Image © Creative Commons via Flickr / Ohhh...Alright... © Roy Lichtenstein 1964

Steve Martin

Acclaimed actor and comedian Steve Martin is known for his work as a comedian, actor, writer, producer, and musician. His comedic talent was recognised early on as a writer for The Smothers Brothers Comedy Hour, and he was a regular host on Saturday Night Live and Martin's stand-up comedy in the 1970s led to a successful acting career in films like the Cheaper By The Dozen and Father of the Bride series. With a career decorated with awards, including five Grammys, a Primetime Emmy Award and an Honorary Academy Award in 2013, Martin has also made his mark as a connoisseur of art, actively participating in the global art scene. Beyond his entertainment career, Martin's dedication to art collecting showcases his multifaceted personality and deep appreciation for the arts.

Martin was actually a personal acquaintance of the artist, but is very private about certain aspects of his collection. It is known, however, that he was the owner of Ohhh...Alright… in the early 2000s, which then became one of Lichtenstein’s most valuable works when it sold for $38 million a decade later.

In this painting, the primary hues of his faux-print technique meets the distorted features of a Picasso portrait, creating an artful and meticulous collision between two trademark styles.Image © Christies / Woman With Flowered Hat © Roy Lichtenstein 1963

Laurence Graff

Laurence Graff, who founded Graff Diamonds in 1960, has made a significant impact in the jewellery industry, earning the moniker “King of Diamonds.” His company is committed to ethical sourcing, adhering to the Kimberly process to avoid conflict diamonds. Starting his career at 15 as an apprentice in East London, Graff quickly ascended to own two jewellery shops in Hatton Garden by the early 1960s. His interest in art has deeply influenced his collecting and design philosophy. Graff's collection, once focused on Impressionist works, now boasts significant pieces by modern artists like Andy Warhol and Jean-Michel Basquiat, reflecting his evolving taste. His collection now includes significant works, exemplified by his strategic acquisition of art pieces, such as the controversial re-cut Wittelsbach Blue diamond and the strategic purchase of one significant painting annually. Graff's interest in art extends beyond collecting, with his office displaying notable pieces, including a life-size sculpture of Kate Moss and works by young artists, underscoring his deep engagement with the art world alongside his diamond empire. This passion for art has directly inspired Graff Diamonds' creations, notably the “Art Inspired” collection, which draws from Cy Twombly’s calligraphic style, Kazimir Malevich’s geometric cuts and Paolo Scheggi’s monochromatic works. In 2013, Graff's contributions were recognised with an Order of the British Empire, marking his dual legacy in both the world of fine jewellery and art collecting.

For his 75th birthday, he purchased Lichtenstein’s Woman with Flowered Hat for $56.1 million, including fees, at a Christie's auction in 2013. The auction saw Graff outbidding competitors, including three over the phone, for the Lichtenstein piece—a pop art interpretation of a Picasso masterpiece.

This work depicts a black haired man and a blonde woman standing in front of a canvas that faces away from the viewer. The speech bubble reads: "Why, Brad darling, This painting is a masterpiece! My, soon you'll have all of New York clamoring for your work!"Image © Sotheby's / Masterpiece © Roy Lichtenstein 1962

Steve Cohen

Since beginning their art collection journey in 2000, the legendary (albeit controversial) trader renowned for his fervent passion for art Cohen and his wife Alexandra have invested over $1 billion into an extensive and prestigious collection, featuring eminent artists such as Willem de Kooning, Andy Warhol, Pablo Picasso, Jasper Johns, Jeff Koons, and Jackson Pollock. This collection, housed and rotated quarterly among Point72's global offices, is so integrally woven into the workspace that it is not uncommon for its employees to interact with it inadvertently. Praised by Larry Gagosian for its museum-quality breadth, the collection reflects Cohen's deep engagement with art, and Cohen claims his art acquisition strategy is focused on pieces that resonate with him personally – including works by both celebrated and emerging artists. His art collecting, characterised by personal visits to artists' studios and a preference for discovery over financial gain, underscores a profound dedication to the art itself, as opposed to its potential as an investment.

Notably, in 2015, Cohen was disclosed as the purchaser of Alberto Giacometti's L’Homme Au Doigt, one of the auction world's priciest pieces. Their collection also boasts Damien Hirst's renowned The Physical Impossibility of Death in the Mind of Someone Living, featuring a shark in formaldehyde. Beyond amassing art, the Cohens have generously supported various institutions, including the Metropolitan Museum of Art and the Museum of Modern Art, contributing $50 million towards the latter's expansion. Their engagement with the art world also includes selling significant pieces, such as a Warhol Mao painting for over $47 million at Sotheby's, indicating a dynamic approach to their collection. In 2017, he made headlines with the acquisition of Lichtenstein's painting Masterpiece for $165 million, positioning it as one of the top ten most expensive paintings ever sold. This significant purchase was initially reported by the New York Times, underscoring Cohen's prominent status in the art collecting world and his willingness to invest substantially in highly valued artwork.

Agnes Gund

Agnes Gund is a distinguished American philanthropist, arts patron, and advocate for arts education and social justice. She has significantly contributed to the arts landscape through her roles as President Emerita and Life Trustee of the Museum of Modern Art (MoMA), Chairman of its International Council, and board member of MoMA PS1. In response to the drastic arts education budget cuts in New York City public schools during the 1977 fiscal crisis, Gund founded Studio in a School, a nonprofit organisation that brings professional artists into schools to teach various art forms. Gund's philanthropic efforts extend beyond the arts, touching on education, women's issues, and environmental concerns. She has received numerous accolades for her work, including the National Medal of Arts from President Bill Clinton in 1997, the J. Paul Getty Medal in 2018, and the “Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg Woman of Leadership Award” in 2020.

Her commitment to the arts is also evident in her extensive collection of modern and contemporary art, ranging from modern masters like Jasper Johns and Roy Lichtenstein to contemporary artists like Kara Walker and Glenn Ligon.In 2017, Gund sold Lichtenstein's aforementioned Masterpiece to seed the Art for Justice Fund, aimed at supporting criminal justice reform and reducing mass incarceration in the United States, inspired by her concern for her grandchildren and the impact of systemic racial issues. In 2022, she sold Lichtenstein’s Mirror #5 to an unnamed buyer in November for more than $3.1 million at Christie’s – profits were partially given to Groundswell Fund, a non-profit advocating for reproductive rights. Gund's legacy is marked by her generosity and dedication to using art as a catalyst for social change, with many of her valuable works pledged as gifts to various institutions.

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