Frequently named as one of the world’s top art collectors (June 2012, Art News) Laurence Graff has added to his already impressive collection with the purchase of Vladimir Tretchikoff’s Chinese Girl painting.
Chinese Girl, an iconic work by South African artist Tretchikoff is said to be one of the most widely reproduced and recognisable pictures in the world.
Commenting on his recent acquisition, Mr Graff said: “As a young man, I noticed the image of Tretchikoff’s Chinese Girl continuously displayed in many different locations in print form.
“It was the first piece of art that made an impact on me, and I believe ignited my interest and passion for art. You can imagine my surprise to have learned of the sale of the original painting and of course, my decision to buy it was immediate.”
Chinese Girl will be returned home to South Africa in Summer 2013, where it will be exhibited at the Delaire Graff Estate in Stellenbosch, South Africa. The painting’s arrival will be marked by a special launch event, which will be used to raise funds for Mr Graff’s charitable foundation, FACET (For Africa’s Children Every Time).
LAURENCE GRAFF: THE ART COLLECTOR
Laurence Graff’s passion for art began in the 1970’s when he purchased a small Renoir, which he kept in a safe amongst his diamonds. With this he made a promise to himself to acquire one Impressionist painting a year.
A few years later, Graff made the transition into contemporary art when he was invited to see Andy Warhol’s Electric Chair series on Madison Avenue in New York. At an auction for Christie’s the following day, he was shown Warhol’s Orange Marilyn from 1964, which sparked his interest in learning all he could about contemporary art. After attending several exhibitions, reading about the contemporary artists of the time, and talking to expert in the field, Graff realised why contemporary art was so special. His first purchase of contemporary art was Francis Bacon’s Portrait of Lucien Freud, which he purchased in London for £700. Two further significant contemporary purchases were Warhol’s Lavender Marilyn and Red Liz, two true icons who continue to be his favourites to this day.
Now considered to be one of the world’s preeminent art collectors, Mr Graff firmly believes that collecting is about building up a personal collection that works cohesively, as a whole, with each piece having personal meaning. Collecting art is a true passion, and the pictures that he has acquired over the years are images he truly loves.
In addition to collecting art, Mr Graff is deeply committed to supporting museums that encourage and show contemporary artists, and combining art and charity. Graff sits on the Executive Committee of the International Director’s Council of the Guggenheim Museum in New York, the International Council of the Tate Modern in London, the Berggruen Museum in Berlin, the Board of Governors of the Tel Aviv Museum of Art and is an International Trustee of the Museum of Contemporary Art in Los Angeles.
Mr Graff hosted a charity art auction at Christie’s in London in October 2009 in support of FACET (For Africa’s Children Every Time). With works donated by contemporary artists that Mr Graff collects, including Damien Hirst, Tracey Emin, Banksy and Raqib Shaw, the evening raised over $1.2 million for the Graff Leadership Centre in Lesotho.
In November 2011, the Delaire Graff Estate hosted a further charity art auction featuring the donated works of 15 leading South African artists to benefit FACET. The funds raised on good cause.
Described by Mr Graff as “one of the most beautiful locations in the world”, Delaire’s walls and gardens are adorned with a mainly contemporary African art collection, all personally handpicked by Mr Graff. A prominent collector of South African art, his collection includes work by such artists as Deborah Bell, Dylan Lewis, Ndikhumbule Ngqinambi, Anton Smit, Lionel Smit and William Kentridge.