Art Patrons Among Top Political Donors Ahead of Midterms – ARTnews.com

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Arts patrons are among the top conservative donors pumping funds into the political circle ahead of the US midterm elections.

Ken Griffins, Larry Ellison and Stephen A. Schwarzman are each among the top 10 political donors supporting Republican fundraising ahead of Tuesday’s election, according to recently released data from OpenSecrets, which tracks political funding. Together, the three conservative groups have donated $135 million.

Campaign spending for the 2022 midterm is expected to be the most expensive ever, topping an estimate of $9.3 billion, up around 30% from the 2018 peak Bloomberg. Abortion rights, economic strains and immigration are among the issues dominating the political debate surrounding next week’s election.

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In addition to her political influence, Blackstone CEO Steve Schwarzman, Citadel’s Ken Griffins and Oracle founder Larry Ellisonthe latter two, each of which has appeared on ARTnews List of the top 200 collectors, each having made a major mark as public figures in art.

Last year, Griffin made headlines when he outbid a 17,000-strong DAO group of crypto enthusiasts to win a rare copy of the US Constitution for $43 million at auction. The acquisition, which Griffin loaned to Arkansas’ Crystal Bridges Museum of Art this year, added to his already impressive collection, which includes works by Jean-Michel Basquiat, Paul Cézanne, Jackson Pollock and Jasper Johns. Since 2015, he has donated more than $260 million to Museums and art spaces in the US, including the Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago, where a gallery is named after him.

Schwarzman, a Giving Pledge signee who donated to Trump’s 2020 election, serves in a trustee position at The Frick Collection. According to the museum’s website, Schwarzman is currently supporting a program to match public donations with the institution’s annual fund this fall. In addition to being an underwriter for the Met Costume Institute’s Heavenly Bodies: Fashion and the Catholic Imagination, he also assisted in the redesign of the Musée des Arts Décoratifs’ fashion galleries. A New York Public Library building housing an art collection is named for him.

Ellison, a tech mogul, has been planning since 2010 to open an as-yet-unrealized private museum to house his collection. While he is less visible in museum space, he has used his private collection in public space. In 2021, he loaned two van Gogh paintings to a traveling exhibition in the United States and displayed his holdings of Asian art at a San Francisco museum.

Elsewhere at the top of the OpenSecrets ranking is Richard Uihlein, a Midwestern shipping magnate who has funded far-right causes and is a donor to the Field Museum of Natural History in Chicago. Another is banking heir Timothy Mellon, who previously served as the longtime trustee of the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, one of the nation’s largest distributors of arts-related grants.

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