Corporations Own Everything — Art Included

On the 42nd floor of a steep mountain-shaped office building in the Shinjuku skyscraper district of Tokyo, visitors can see some breathtaking paintings, including a Gauguin and one of Van Gogh’s Sunflowers (pictured). Ninety minutes away in Hakone, you can venture underground in pursuit of works by Monet, Renoir, Chagall and Picasso. Both are outstanding examples of corporate art collections, the sort that are the subject of a book published on Monday and of a new show running at the auction house Bonhams in London for two weeks. What both the exhibition and the book reveal is the remarkable scale and breadth of the art that has been collected by corporations since the Renaissance, when the Monte dei Paschi bank in Siena decided it needed nice things for its walls and established what is thought to be the first corporate art collection, in 1472.

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