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Art Disappears in Private Hands. Can Social Media Resurface It?

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Art Disappears in Private Hands. Can Social Media Resurface It?


The private art collection of Roberto Toscano and his wife, Nadia Toscano-Palon, features works by artists including Daniel Turner, Anish Kapoor, James Turrell and Oscar Tuazon. Since 2012, the collection has grown to more than 100 works, which are partly in storage because of renovations — and, like most private collections, are rarely seen by anyone outside of the couple’s immediate circle.

This is a problem for many collectors, Mr. Toscano included, who want to show their work to broader audiences or believe that there’s a public good to sharing the work they own. Though collectors at the highest end of the market are increasingly opening private museums, it can be difficult to afford or staff a space. Private collections can often be so opaque, Mr. Toscano said, that even artists don’t know where their own works are — part of his motivation to make that general information public.

“If I don’t put them in some kind of public database, these works essentially disappear from the planet,” he said.

Enter Collecteurs, a website and social media platform that’s boldly billing itself as “The Collective Museum of Private Collections.” Collecteurs, based out of the New Museum’s NEW INC., a cultural incubator, is a public benefit corporation with a stated mission to bring artwork into the light — at least, the light of the internet. Its founders are Jessica and Evrim Oralkan, married collectors who became overwhelmed by the size of their own trove of art. They were struggling to manage it, and share it with the public. “You get to a point where your walls can’t take anymore art,” Mr. Oralkan said.

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