Glenstone Opens to the Press and Public
Go to Glenstone!
Emily and Mitchell Rales opened Glenstone, their private museum on the property of their Potomac, Maryland home, to the press on Friday. Well, opened to the rest of the press (and interestingly a number of communications professionals from peer museums) because Glenstone has been heavily covered and previewed throughout its five-year gestation.
Mitchell Rales seemed to relish the coming-out party aspect of the opening. He made reference in his opening remarks to his reputation as a ‘reclusive billionaire’ before punctuating them with the diffident comment, “Well, here I am.”
Rales is hardly the first very wealthy person — mostly men but not solely — to have faced a personal or professional crisis only to turn to art and the hope of creating a legacy through art. In Rales’s case, there is no origin to his fortune that needs to be laundered through art. His Danaher Corporation is an industrial conglomerate built through savvy deals that puts him in the category of exceptional investors.
If Rales doesn’t have skeletons, he did have a personal challenge. How to create a museum that would and can distinguish itself against other great private museums in the context of a rising art market. Rales’s origin story as a collector starts with a fiery explosion on a remote Russian airstrip that precipitated a mid-life crisis.
Actually, that’s not entirely true. Rales began collecting like most when he built a new home. He also started with Impressionists and Picasso. Over time, decorating gave way to acquiring trophies. Rales picked up one of those from François Pinault. That Jackson Pollock produced a substantial return when Rales sold it in 2013. The collector bought another, a Rothko, at auction in 2003 for $16.35m, a lot of money before the big rise in art prices in general and Rothko prices in particular.
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