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Top 200 Collectors

Black-and-white portrait of an older white woman and man
Fairchild Archive/Penske Media/Shutterstock

Jo Carole and Ronald S. Lauder

New York; Palm Beach, Florida; Paris; Vienna; Wainscott, New York; Washington, D.C.

Cosmetics (Estée Lauder Companies)

13th- and 14th-century Italian gold-ground paintings; 20th-century decorative arts; Antiquities; Arms and armor; Austrian and German Expressionism; Contemporary art; Medieval art; Modern masters; Old Masters; Postwar German and Italian art


Ronald S. Lauder, the son of the legendary Estée Lauder, has amassed more than 4,000 artworks spanning more than 2,000 years, from the medieval to the contemporary. He has said that he thinks of art on three levels, “Oh,” “Oh My,” and “Oh My God,” and aims to collect only the “OMG,” for which he will wait years and pay staggering sums.

One such acquisition is the Portrait of Adele Bloch-Bauer I (1907), by Gustav Klimt, which he purchased in 2006 for a remarkable $135 million—at that time, the highest price ever paid for a painting. Lauder has called the piece his “Mona Lisa.” It is currently installed at the Neue Galerie in New York, which he founded in 2001 in a luxurious mansion on Fifth Avenue on the Upper East Side. The museum holds steadfast to a mission of displaying and celebrating German and Austrian art of the early 20th century. Notable pieces in the collection include numerous drawings by Paul Klee and a portrait of Sigmund Freud by Hans Richter.

In July of 2019, Ronald revealed that he is the owner of a $25 million collection of World War II memorabilia when he filed a lawsuit demanding that the International Museum of World War II give him the material, which its founders sold to him. Lauder, with his wife, Jo Carole, has also assembled a first-class personal collection of German and Viennese modern art that includes works by Gustav Klimt, Egon Schiele, and Otto Dix, among others. In 2020, he gave more than 90 pieces of arms and armor to the Metropolitan Museum of Art.