For Miami native Richard Arregui, a one-time gallerist and now sales and marketing director at Vivant Skin Care, art’s most important quality is its timelessness. He serves on the board of the revered Miami non-profit Locust Projects and, with his wife Susan, has filled their home in the Ponce Davis neighbourhood with works by a mix of emerging and canonical artists ranging from Tammi Campbell, Paul Mpagi Sepuya, Nicola Tyson and Tomm El-Saieh to Alicja Kwade, Robert Rauschenberg and Larry Bell. A tirelessly curious collector and self-described “art junkie”, Arregui shared his collecting philosophy and tips for a successful Miami Art Week.
The Art Newspaper: What was the first work you ever bought?
Richard Arregui: I was 23, and it was four of Francisco Goya’s Los Caprichos etchings. As far as I’m concerned, it all begins with Goya.
What was the most recent work you bought?
I made three recent purchases on the same day. One was Jennifer Bartlett’s Alphabet Eight, from a show she did in 1993 at Paula Cooper Gallery. And the others were two large drawings by Cosmo Whyte from his most recent show, Hush Now, Don’t Explain, at Anat Ebgi Gallery. Cosmo is a Jamaican-born artist living in Los Angeles and teaching at UCLA. I guess this might be a good example of where my head is often at with art: both in the past and present.
How quickly do you decide to buy a work of art?
Not very quickly. I initially will react to something, then ask lots of questions of the gallerist. I read up as much as I can on the artist. And then, of course, I present to my committee—my wife, Susan. She has a keen eye and helps me engage in conversation around the work.
What do you regret not buying when you had the chance?
There have been many great works I’ve missed because I didn’t act fast enough. As a friend of mine often tells me: “You can’t sit and ponder when you see great work.”
What is the most unusual place you’ve installed a piece in your home?
Not so much the place as the combination of the place and the piece. I installed a wonderful Dada-inspired work of a rotating penny loafer by Andrew J. Greene from The Modern Institute on a stanchion in our master bathroom.
If you could have any work from any museum in the world, what would it be?
Jasper Johns’s Painting with Two Balls (1960), which is still owned by Johns and is on loan to the Philadelphia Museum of Art.
What are you looking out for at Art Basel in Miami Beach this year?
I am always looking for art that has a universal language and will continue to carry weight in the future.
What is your least favourite thing about art fairs?
The traffic. But other than that, I think it’s an amazing experience to be able to see and talk to the gallerists I often work with from all over the world. Over the years they have all become good friends.
What tip would you give to someone visiting Miami for the first time?
I’ve always said that I love Miami so much because it’s so close to the US. Miami is my hometown, and it is such a unique and cosmopolitan city. It’s great to indulge yourself in all the cultures our city has to offer and the incredible, different cuisines that come with that.
Where do you like to eat and drink in Miami?
More often than not, at home! I’m married to Julia Child. But I’m very simple. You will often find me at the Coconut Grove Sailing Club or at the Key Club. The food is not bad, and the views of our magical city are priceless.