Colin Gleadell details the acquisitive tendencies of Portuguese collector, Jose Berardo, who is showing off some of his works outdoors on a golf course in the Algarve:
Now 66, Berardo is a self-made man, amassing a fortune in South Africa from gold and diamond mining, which he then diversified into a wide variety of investments. An inveterate collector, he started as a schoolboy with stamps, postcards and matchboxes and graduated to modern and contemporary art in the Eighties. His various collections, which include art deco and Chinese porcelain, encompass more than 40,000 works, of which some 1,200 are by well-known modern and contemporary artists with a value, he has said, of $750 million (£486 million). So far, he claims never to have sold a thing, though that might change.
I first heard of Berardo in the early Nineties when his then adviser, Francisco Capelo, was a familiar figure in the London salerooms, building what was to become a very fine collection of English pop art. The market was in recession, so it was a good time to buy, and Capelo paid top prices for vintage works by Allen Jones, Joe Tilson, Hockney and Hamilton. One of his favoured galleries was Whitford Fine Art. Another was the Lisson gallery, where he was a major buyer of works by Tony Cragg and Richard Deacon. His range was encyclopedic, stretching from Mondrian to Bacon and Warhol, taking in en route virtually every Western avant garde movement of the post-war era.
Berardo went public with his collection in 1997, displaying works at an old casino in Sintra, and then in the Belém Cultural Centre in Lisbon. In 2006 he came to an arrangement with the Portuguese Ministry of Culture whereby the centre would be renamed the Berardo Museum, but the ministry would manage the bulk of his collection with the option of buying it after 10 years – much as the Spanish state did with the Baron Thyssen collection in Madrid.