American folk art is continuously rising in value

We look at some of the collectors


Jerry Lauren, an executive in his brother Ralph Lauren’s fashion firm, and his wife Susan paid the highest price for a piece of American folk art at Sotheby’s New York in October 2006. They went to $5.8m for a weathervane in the shape of a native American and have filled their New York apartment with folk art. They are donors to the American Folk Art Museum.

Paul Attanasio and his wife Katie Jacobs: This Beverly Hills couple’s home is packed with weathervanes and 1890 bicycles. She is producer of the popular American TV series “House”.

Ralph Esmerian: A fourth generation gem dealer, Mr Esmerian has amassed what is arguably the most important folk art collection today. He donated much of his holdings to the American Folk Art Museum in 2001. “I’m still collecting folk art, especially pottery and watercolours,” he says.

Joan Johnson has assembled considerable material from Pennsylvania German communities (descendants of 17th- and 18th-century immigrants, such as the Amish). “When I began collecting in 1956, everything was dirt cheap,” she says. “Now folk art sells in New York and it’s a whole new ball game; young people can’t afford this stuff anymore.” She is a trustee of both the Philadelphia Museum of Art and the American Folk Art Museum.

Jane Karcher: A radiologist who lives in Southern Florida, Ms Karcher built her formidable collection with the guidance of Connecticut dealer and writer David Schorsch. It is currently on show at the Yale University Art Gallery in “Made for Love” (until 26 August).

Originally appeared in The Art Newspaper as ‘The collectors'