Craig Robins is a real estate developer with flawless intuition. In the past decade he transformed a depressed strip of downtown Miami into the booming Design District, helped restore the crumbling Art Deco landmarks of South Beach into a premier tourist destination and launched Design Miami.
When were you first inspired to start collecting?
It began around 30 years ago, while I was studying in Madrid. I visited the Prado Museum many times and became fascinated with several artists, especially Goya. Afterwards, I moved to Barcelona where the city’s urban design, architecture and art became a source of inspiration. It was then, with limited resources, that I began to collect.
What was one of your first pieces purchased?
The first serious work I acquired was about 20 years ago. It was a word painting by John Baldessari from the 1960s.
Do you collect with a particular focus?
After collecting works by several young artists based in California in the early 1990s, naturally John Baldessari became unavoidable. This then led me to collect art by Mike Kelley and Paul McCarthy. Independently, I started to collect Richard Tuttle. Eventually, I had no choice but to acquire a masterpiece by Duchamp.
How has the presence of the art fairs in Miami changed the world’s perception of the city?
Art Basel gave Miami a chance to showcase itself as an international cultural city of substance. It served as a catalyst to unite the community’s efforts and establish our relevance in the global dialogue. Beyond that, our museums have grown, talented artists have emerged and important collections have been showcased here. A significant part of the work I am doing now relates to, or in part was born out of, that experience.