The Art Megacollectors Who Live in Their Own Contemporary Museum

By
The collection has more than 3,700 works of contemporary art. Photo: Floto + Warner

Once a year, to coincide with the Armory Show weekend in March, megacollectors Michael and Susan Hort open the art-covered 17,000-square-foot spread of their downtown home to hundreds of art-worlders, who come to peruse the couple’s collection of more than 3,700 works of contemporary art. This time, they’ll be serving bagels next door.

The collection is daunting — it’s a museum’s worth of stuff arrayed in a four-floor residence (three floors are for gallery-style hanging and storage; another is for living, but hung just as elaborately). And each year brings a new batch of art; I’ve invariably found myself asking, “Who’s this by? Who’s that by?” This new installation is light on the dull abstraction I saw a while back and heavy on large, colorful, gestural, and geometric and semi-figurative paintings. There are whole walls of Ellen Berkenblit, Sadie Laska, Lauren Luloff, Tal R, Brian Belott, Tom Anholt, and Chris Martin and sculpture by Nari Ward, Thomas Houseago, and Matthew Monahan. (Don’t worry if you don’t know all those names. I didn’t either, but odds are you will soon.)

A piece by John Currin. Photo: Floto + Warner

A few other collectors do this kind of thing when the art world comes to their hometown — the Rubells and the de la Cruzes during Art Basel Miami Beach, most notably — but seeing the Horts’ collection is different, more intimate and gangly, since the art is hung not in an exhibition space but packed everywhere into living space: The taste is Über-eclectic, the surroundings informal, the décor comfy and scruffy. Forget lifestyle or power statement: New art is everything here. (The event also functions as a fund-raiser for the Rema Hort Mann Foundation, named after their late daughter, which benefits both cancer patients and young artists.)

And the Horts are not a family of flippers either — they still own almost everything they’ve ever bought, with the bulk of it likely to be distributed to museums at some point in the far-off future. 

Photo: Floto + Warner

A few of the artists in this year’s open-house: 1, 4, Marlene Dumas; 2, 7, Victor Man; 3, Richard Prince; 5, Rosa Loy; 6, Elizabeth Peyton; 8, Karen Kilimnik; 9, Mircea Suciu; 10, Ellen Gronemeyer; 11, Erik Van Lieshout; 12, Andy Hope; 13, Gillian Carnegie; 14, Raymond Pettibon.

Photo: Floto + Warner

4, Marlene Dumas; 2, 7, Victor Man; 3, 29 Richard Prince; 5, Rosa Loy; 6, 16, Elizabeth Peyton; 8, 27, Karen Kilimnik; 9, Mircea Suciu; 10, Ellen Gronemeyer; 11, Erik Van Lieshout; 12, Andy Hope; 13, Gillian Carnegie; 14, Raymond Pettibon; 15, 31, Neo Rauch; 17, Tim Eitel; 18, 24, Paul P.; 19, Wilhelm Sasnal; 20, Eberhard Havekost; 21, Luc Tuymans; 22, Michaël Borremans; 23, Cindy Sherman; 25, 30, John Currin; 26, Nicole Eisenman; 28, Adrian Ghenie; 32, Lisa Yuskavage; 33, Axel Geis

*This article appears in the February 22, 2016 issue of New York Magazine.

*A final selection of the works has yet to be made.