Swizz Beatz Talks Art Collection, Helping Other Rappers Learn To Build Their Own

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Swizz Beatz was recently profiled in the New York Times about one of his more recent hobbies – art collecting.

In the article, the rapper explains why art is a bigger investment instead of jewelry and reveals that he sometimes offers advice to other hip-hop acts who want to collect:

“Diddy will call me for a little advice on a painting,” Mr. Dean said. “He has a lot of amazing Peter Beards that I’m trying to get away from him.”

While hip-hop and art have often intertwined, it mostly occurs on the fringes, not at Sotheby’s. So Mr. Dean casts himself as a pioneer in a world where status symbols typically hang from a neck, not on a wall. “Rap artists will spend $200,000 on a chain, which will have no value after they finish their album,” he said.

“Art, you can pass down for generations.”

On when he started becoming a serious collector:

These days Mr. Dean’s primary passion is art. Initially drawn to graffiti in his youth, he didn’t really consider collecting until 2002, when he commissioned Peter Max, the illustrator known for his psychedelic posters, to paint two portraits of Clive Davis, the venerable music executive. Mr. Dean presented them to Mr. Davis at the Grammy awards as a gesture of appreciation for helping him start his own label, Full Surface Records, years earlier. The price tag: $350,000 for the pair.

Mr. Dean was hooked, going to galleries, meeting dealers and learning about artists. He now owns several Warhol prints from two acclaimed series: “Cowboys and Indians” and “Campbell’s Soup Cans.” He has notable works by Basquiat (“Hot Water”), Keith Haring (“Medusa Head”) and an untitled watercolor by Sam Francis.

One of his favorite artists is Ernie Barnes, a former professional football player who painted elongated portraits of African-Americans. Mr. Dean has more than 20 pieces by Mr. Barnes, including his first work, an untitled painting that Mr. Dean reportedly bought for $1.7 million last year. But his most valuable work may be an untitled sketch of crowns and horses by Salvador Dali.

“I was scared when I got that piece,” Mr. Dean said, who declined to divulge the price. “It was so simple, but so pricey.”

Oh, how I aspire to be a part of the one percent. In the meantime, you can check out “A Quieter Side of Swizz Beatz” in full at the New York Times.

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