Collector's Eye: John Marquez

Art lovers tell us what they’ve bought and why

John Marquez with some of his art at home. Photo courtesy of John Marquez. © Nick Garcia

John Marquez with some of his art at home. Photo courtesy of John Marquez. © Nick Garcia

The Miami-based collector John Marquez is making a splash in his hometown. The real estate developer and restaurateur—he owns the Michelin-starred Sushi Noz restaurant in Manhattan—plans to launch a 8,000 sq. ft warehouse gallery, the John Marquez Family Collection, in Miami’s Allapattah neighbourhood next year. The new venue and foundation will host exhibitions and artist residencies.

Marquez began collecting contemporary art more than a decade ago, focusing on international mid-career and emerging names. Artists represented in his 500-strong collection include Nina Chanel Abney, Rita Ackermann, Claire Tabouret, Tunji Adeniyi-Jones, Harold Ancart, and Daniel Arsham.

Marquez has made “significant donations” to museums nationally, according to a biographical statement, and serves as a trustee at the Institute of Contemporary Art in Miami.

The Art Newspaper: What was the first work you bought?

John Marquez: There are a couple works that stand out in my mind: a sculpture of an insect by the Mexican artist Pablo Castillo, and a photograph of a smoke ring by Donald Sultan. I honestly was not collecting work back then but this was a start, when I bought to decorate my new condo.

A few years later I bought my first Banksy original on board, Forgive Us Our Trespassing [2010] which is when things really started to take off.

What was your most recent buy?

A painting by Robin F. Williams from PPOW [gallery’s] exhibition this fall. It’s an outstanding work.

If your house was on fire, which work would you save?

Well, it’s hard to say but probably my Peter Saul painting. It is
small enough to carry and irreplaceable.

If money were no object, what would be your dream purchase?

Without a doubt a Basquiat painting. The work Untitled (Boxer) [1982]is absolutely one of my favourites. I remember seeing the work at the Brooklyn Museum’s Basquiat exhibition in 2005. This show was one of my earlier inspirations to collect art. It has always stuck
with me.

What is the most surprising place you have displayed a work?

I would say my garage. I thought a work by Invader would be fitting since the artist sometimes installs his mosaics on the outside of buildings. My piece is called HK_56 [2015].

Which artists, dead or alive, would you invite to your dream dinner party?

Again, Basquiat.

What’s the best collecting advice you’ve been given?

It’s so clichéd to say, but definitely stick to buying what you like, whether it’s trending or not—always, always like what you’re buying.

What have you missed most during lockdown?

Art fair and exhibition openings. It’s more special to see the works in person.

Have you bought an NFT?

I just bought an NFT by Jordy Kerwick, a fantastic artist whose physical art is also in my collection.