Museum Stories

Two Billion Dollars and the Stunning Art Collection of Heidi Horten

Magda Michalska 30 November 2021 min Read

She met her husband in a hotel bar. She was 19, he was 32 years her senior and a founder of the fourth-largest German department store business, Horten AG. They got married, moved to Switzerland and lived together with a happy and slightly exuberant lifestyle. Heidi Horten, an Austrian billionaire, inherited her fortune upon the death of her husband in 1987, and the money allowed her to run various philanthropic initiatives as well as amass an enormous and extremely diverse art collection.

Edvard Munch, Self-portrait against two-coloured background, 1904 © Courtesy Heidi Horten Collection; Art Collection of Heidi Horten
Edvard Munch, Self-portrait against two-coloured background, 1904 © Courtesy Heidi Horten Collection.

Francis Bacon, Study for portrait of Henrietta Moraes, 1964 © Courtesy Heidi Horten Collection © The Estate of Francis Bacon, All rights reserved / Bildrecht, Wien, 2018; Art Collection of Heidi Horten
Francis Bacon, Study for portrait of Henrietta Moraes, 1964. © Courtesy Heidi Horten Collection. © The Estate of Francis Bacon. All rights reserved / Bildrecht, Wien, 2018.

Horten’s net worth has been established in 2021 as 3.1 billion USD and it is manifested in such investments as a private jet BAC 1-11, a series of private yachts (such as the 315-foot long Carinthia VII), and villas in Mülheim an der Ruhr Croglio, Lyford Cay in the Bahamas, the Wörthersee in Austria, and a penthouse in Vienna. In 2008 she sold the 35.56 carat Wittelsbach Diamond that had previously belonged to the crown jewels of Bavaria.

August Macke, Two women in front of a hat shop, 1913 © Courtesy Heidi Horten Collection; Art Collection of Heidi Horten
August Macke, Two women in front of a hat shop, 1913. © Courtesy Heidi Horten Collection.

Max Pechstein, Yellow Mask II, 1910 © Courtesy Heidi Horten Collection © Pechstein Hamburg/Tökendorf/ Bildrecht, Wien, 2018; Art Collection of Heidi Horten
Max Pechstein, Yellow Mask II, 1910. © Courtesy Heidi Horten Collection. © Pechstein Hamburg/Tökendorf/ Bildrecht, Wien, 2018.

Heidi Horten began collecting around the 1990s, inspired by her late husband’s collection of German Expressionists. She developed her collection primarily according to her personal taste, but with time she also tried to purchase pieces which could ‘interact’ with other categories of works. Today her collection features approximately 500 paintings, graphic works, and sculptures by world-class artists, providing a comprehensive cross-section of 100 years of global art history.

Gustav Klimt, Church i Unterach am Attersee, 1916 © Courtesy Heidi Horten Collection; Art Collection of Heidi Horten
Gustav Klimt, Church in Unterach am Attersee, 1916. © Courtesy Heidi Horten Collection.

Paul Klee, Siblings, 1930 © Courtesy Heidi Horten Collection; Art Collection of Heidi Horten
Paul Klee, Siblings, 1930. © Courtesy Heidi Horten Collection.

Apart from the Expressionists (Ernst Ludwig Kirchner, Franz Marc, August Macke), the largest groups of works fall into the category of post-war American Art (Roy Lichtenstein, Robert Rauschenberg, Gerhard Richter, Mark Rothko, Andy Warhol, Jean-Michel Basquiat). However, she also owns works by other artists like Egon Schiele, Gustav Klimt, Marc Chagall, Paul Klee, Henri Matisse, Joan Miro, Edvard Munch, Pablo Picasso,  Francis Bacon, Georg Baselitz, Jean Dubuffet, Lucio Fontana, Lucian Freud, Damien Hirst, Alex Katz, Yves Klein and more…

Here you can explore Heidi Horten’s renowned art collection!

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