February 21, 2024
Tattoo artists open pop-up shop in Amsterdam Rembrandt House


AMSTERDAM — Henk Schiffmaker’s needle whirrs as he tattoos the familiar lines of an elephant on Lilian Rachmaran’s back.

“Highbrow to lowbrow” is how the famous Dutch tattoo artist describes his latest project — inking sketches by Rembrandt van Rijn onto the skin of visitors to the building the Golden Age master once called home.

Or call it high art to body art.

The Rembrandt House Museum has transformed one of its rooms into a tattoo parlor for a residency it calls “A Poor Man’s Rembrandt,” featuring Schiffmaker and other top Amsterdam tattoo artists for a week starting Monday.

For between about $54-$270, visitors can get their own permanent reminder of Rembrandt.

“It’s a juxtaposition — a jump from high to low, from highbrow to lowbrow,” Schiffmacher said. “And it’s great that these two worlds can visit one another. Actually it’s really one world because it’s about art.”

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Museum Director Milou Halbesma said the event is a way of attracting new visitors to the historic house and getting people closer to the artist.

“I think it’s a very good contemporary way to have your own Rembrandt,” she said.

The workshop has already proved a hit. All appointments available online were filled within 10 minutes, she said, though there are still some slots available for people who walk into the museum and wait their turn.

Schiffmacher and his colleagues have adapted some of Rembrandt’s sketches to make them suitable for tattooing — making lines thinner so they don’t grow together as the tattoo ages.

They see similarities between their work and the artist’s quick sketches — but there is one key difference.

“The canvas is different,” Schiffmacher said. “The canvas can talk to you, move too much, float, even faint. That didn’t happen for Rembrandt.”

Rachmaran, who works at the museum, was the first person in Schiffmacher’s chair.

She got his version of one of Rembrandt’s famous sketches of an Asian elephant believed to be Hansken, which first arrived in Amsterdam in 1633 on a ship from Ceylon — now Sri Lanka — as a gift for the Prince of Orange.

“I love the animals, they’re so spiritual and smart and impressing and Rembrandt also made Hansken, the first elephant in Europe,” she said.

Getting a work by Schiffmacher in between her other tattoos was also part of the attraction Monday.

“I’m very honored to have one made by Henk himself,” she said.

Who owns some of the most valuable art collections in the world?

Steve Cohen

– Age: 66

– Nationality: United States

– Net worth: $17.5 billion

– Estimated art collection value: $1 billion

Steve Cohen and his wife, Alexandra Cohen, have been collecting art since 2000, amassing an impressive array of works. Fans and followers of the finance and baseball worlds will be familiar with the name Steve Cohen. He founded Point72 Asset Management, a hedge fund firm worth $26 billion and bought the New York Mets for $2.4 billion in 2020.

Having spent an estimated $1 billion on fine art, many famous names have appeared in the Cohens’ collection, including Andy Warhol, Pablo Picasso, Willem de Kooning, Jasper Johns, Jeff Koons, and Jackson Pollock. Steve has stated that his acquisition of art comes from the gut. A notable piece in the collection is perhaps Damien Hirst’s most iconic work, “The Physical Impossibility of Death in the Mind of Someone Living,” a terrifying piece that displays a 13-foot tiger shark suspended in formaldehyde, forcing the viewer to confront their fear of death with something dead, the shark’s mouth agape as if to swallow us whole.

Cohen has been known to part with some of his pieces, having notably sold a Warhol “Mao” painting in 2015. The Cohens have donated to museums, including the Guggenheim, the Museum of Modern Art, El Museo del Barrio, and the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. In 2017, they donated $50 million to expand the Museum of Modern Art.



Francois Pinault

Francois Pinault

– Age: 86

– Nationality: France

– Net worth: $36.7 billion

– Estimated art collection value: $1.2 billion

François Pinault has amassed over 10,000 works in the last 50 years. With a deep passion for sharing his love of art, Pinault is one of, if not the most, important collectors of contemporary art. Pinault’s efforts to connect with creatives and advance public knowledge of art history have made him one of the most influential names in the art world.

In addition to regularly loaning artworks to museums, Pinault has pioneered such artist programs as a residency in Lens and the Prix Pierre Daix, an annual prize in memory of Pierre Daix, an art historian and friend of Pinault.

Unlike many art collections or pieces that are kept in the dark, the Pinault collection can be enjoyed in its new and beautiful home at the Bourse de Commerce, a stunning relic of architecture that has gone through significant repairs and metamorphoses, thanks to visionary architect Tadao Ando’s work on the building from 2017 to its completion in 2020.



Philip Niarchos

Philip Niarchos

– Age: 68

– Nationality: Greece

– Net worth: $2.8 billion

– Estimated art collection value: At least $2 billion

Philip Niarchos inherited his art collection and fortune from his father, Stavros Niarchos, a Greek magnate who made his fortune in oil shipments in the early 1950s. In 1957, the elder Stavros acquired actor Edward G. Robinson’s collection, valued at over $2.5 billion. As the eldest son, Philip Stavros inherited most of his father’s collection. His additions to the collection have only increased its value, making it one of the most coveted in the world.

Notable works include the unmistakable “Yo, Picasso” and Van Gogh’s earless self-portrait, as well as works by Maurizio Cattelan and Andy Warhol. In 1985, Warhol exhibited a commission by his friend Philip entitled “Philip’s Skull,” which utilized CAT scans of Niarcho’s skull on silk screens, challenging the idea of self-portraiture. Equally as impressive is Niarchos’ purchase of Jean Michael Basquiat’s self-portrait for $3.3 million, a record-breaking sale for a Basquiat piece at the time. Niarchos’ collection is also said to have the most expansive private collection of Van Gogh paintings.



Edythe Broad

Edythe Broad

– Age: 86

– Nationality: United States

– Net worth: $6.9 billion

– Estimated art collection value: More than $2 billion

A philanthropist and esteemed art collector, Edythe Broad has committed her life to climate change efforts and has donated billions of dollars to science, education, and the arts. She and her husband, the late billionaire Eli Broad, were some of the first to sign the Giving Pledge, dedicating 75% of their accumulated wealth during their lifetimes.

The Broads’ collection is a commitment to art produced during their lifetime and has accumulated an estimated 2,000 works by 200 artists over the last 50 years. Along with efforts to highlight new and emerging artists, pieces by familiar names such as Takashi Murakami, Jean-Michel Basquiat, Andy Warhol, Cindy Sherman, Barbara Kruger, and Yayoi Kusama have made their way into the collection.

In 2015, the couple opened The Broad, a contemporary art museum in downtown Los Angeles, to publicly showcase the fantastic array of work they collected over the years.



David Geffen

David Geffen

– Age: 79

– Nationality: United States

– Net worth: $7.7 billion

– Estimated art collection value: More than $2 billion

After his early days in the mailroom of the talent agency William Morris, David Geffen became an agent, eventually founding Geffen Records, Asylum Records, DGC Records, and DreamWorks Studios. Interestingly enough, some trickery was afoot when he secured the agent position. When Geffen worked in the mail room, he was able to intercept a letter from UCLA stating he had not completed his required schooling and fudged the letter to make it appear that he had graduated.

Geffen is particular about which works make it into his impressive art collection—and he certainly prioritizes quality over quantity, as his collection is much smaller in scale than others investing in the same space. He has been praised by art dealers and curators alike for his exemplary taste and timing in buying and selling coveted pieces. Much of his collection is shrouded in secrecy, with rare details released to the public.

The self-made billionaire is the most successful single owner of an art collection, making it invaluable despite the collection supposedly containing less than 50 items.



Ezra and David Nahmad

Ezra and David Nahmad

– Age: 77 (Ezra) and 75 (David)

– Nationality: Monaco

– Net worth:$1.5 billion (Ezra) and $2 billion (David)

– Estimated art collection value: Between $3 billion and $4 billion

Brothers Ezra and David Nahmad are considered megadealers in the art world and have spent nearly a lifetime collecting historically significant pieces. Not strangers to controversy, the Nahmads have built their fortune with experience garnered in their teenage years, learning to deal in the art trade while growing up in Italy.

Their buy-and-hold strategy has helped them greatly increase profits, largely thanks to their expansive 15,000-square-foot warehouse in Geneva. It is estimated that the building contains somewhere between 4,500 to 5,000 pieces. Behind the Picasso family, the Nahmads are the owners of the second-largest Picasso collection, reportedly owning 300 original works valued at around $900 million. Other notable artists in their collection include Henri Matisse, Mark Rothko, Claude Monet, and Pierre-Auguste Renoir.

This story originally appeared on Masterworks and was produced and distributed in partnership with Stacker Studio.



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