Colin Gleadell offers a portrait of British art collector Chris Ingram who built his own museum, the Lightbox with the £435m proceeds from selling his business in 2001: In 2001, he sold the business for £435 million.
The windfall allowed him to buy his local football club, Woking Town, rescuing it from impending bankruptcy; it also nudged him from being a part-time art enthusiast into a full-time collector.
Opting for modern British art, which was comparatively undervalued, and leaning more towards the figurative though not necessarily the conventional,
Ingram soon made his mark at auction, outbidding dealers and paying top prices for artists whose work has since become much more expensive. Edward Burra’s Ropes and Ladders, bought in 2005 for £159,000, was the second-highest price for Burra at the time, but has since been eclipsed by seven-figure prices. William Roberts, who has a room to himself at The Lightbox, was an early favourite. Now his work has fetched more than £400,000.
Some of Ingram’s biggest buys have been sculptures by Elisabeth Frink. Having already spent six-figure sums on two of her totemic heads, Easter Head and In Memoriam, he paid a record £377,600 in 2006 for her Walking Madonna, the only other examples being at Salisbury Cathedral and Chatsworth House.
His impressive holdings in British sculpture include not only examples by Henry Moore and Barbara Hepworth, but works by lesser-known artists Reg Butler, Kenneth Armitage, Lyn Chadwick, Geoffrey Clarke and Bernard Meadows, for which he has often paid record prices.
Art Sales: Chris Ingram’s Passion for Art (Telegraph)