Although no one from the publication phoned him with the news, it probably came as no surprise to Los Angeles billionaire philanthropist and contemporary art collector Eli Broad to find journalists calling earlier this week about his presence among the Top 3 on ARTnews magazine's 15th annual list of the 200 most active players in the art market (although Broad and his wife, Edythe, were displaced from the No. 1 slot this year by New York investment banker Leon Black, with Greenwich, Conn., investor Steven Cohen in third).
On the other hand, the news that he was among the top 200 came as a "very nice" surprise to Blake Byrne, a retired television executive and trustee at the Museum of Contemporary Art in Los Angeles. Last year, Byrne donated 123 works by 78 artists to MOCA -- the largest group of artworks given by a private collector in the museum's 25-year history. Byrne's inclusion on the list neatly coincided with the July 3 opening of a show called "The Blake Byrne Collection," which will continue at MOCA through Oct. 10.
This year's 200 includes seven Angelenos -- David Geffen and Michael Ovitz are also on the list -- and 15 California residents (although a spokeswoman for ARTnews notes that it's kind of hard to designate a primary residence for the superrich, what with all those villas in Tuscany and pieds-a-terre in Paris). And both Broad and Byrne believe that the presence of these local collectors on the roster further solidifies L.A.'s standing as an art mecca.