Artist Margaret Salmon, whose video triptych, Ninna Nanna, won the inaugural MaxMara art prize last year, said she was relieved to know her work was going straight into the Maramotti family’s new private museum. “You never know what collectors are going to do with your work—sometimes it can just disappear into a closet,” she says. Still, Salmon acknowledges that the new private collections bring risks for artists and the public. “We could be seeing certain artworks in a whole new light—which could be a positive or a negative.” Indeed, the question remains whether these new galleries can provide the necessary filter—much like established museums and galleries do via curators, committees and the inevitable caps on spending—to separate the good art from the bad. The sheer number of private collections is another issue. Can there ever be too much contemporary art on view? “There is so much going on in London already—too much,” says one London dealer. “Why does the city need more art galleries? I think what these collectors are doing is a travesty. Why can’t they just give everything to the Tate and shut up?”
Nothing, however, was going to stop Zabludowicz, a 46-year-old redhead with a wide smile, and her Finnish-born husband, Poju, from realizing their dream of opening their own space. The two have been collecting since the mid-Nineties and now own more than 1,000 works by 300 artists. Poju ranks 24th on the Sunday Times Rich List, with a fortune estimated at about $4 billion, from real estate, hotels and Las Vegas casinos. (The original family business included Soltam, an Israeli defense contractor.) Before establishing their gallery, near Primrose Hill, the couple had been opening their London home and garden regularly to private tours for members of the Guggenheim, the Whitney and the Tate. Ever the hosts, the pair anchored their yacht in Venice during this year’s Biennale and threw parties for 60 in honor of artists Tracey Emin and Mustafa Hulusi.