June 5, 2023

LOS ANGELES – Damien Hirst’s dots are on your left in the foyer. There is a Louise Bourgeois spider over the fireplace. Across from the main bed are Cy Twombly’s vertebrae.

Los Angeles isn’t exactly known as the city of art collectors, but the embedded Smack Dab in Beverly Hills is among the more active buyers in the market: Eugenio López Alonso, heir to Mexico’s Grupo Jumex fruit juice empire, who landed on an ArtNews list of 200 best collector in the world for at least five consecutive years.

Many credit López, 53, for helping improve Mexico’s contemporary art scene through Museo Jumex, an institution he founded in 2013. Every work exhibited there during the Zona Maco art fair in May was by an artist from Mexico or lived in Mexico, according to Artnet.

With the Museo Jumex designed by David Chipperfield in the Polanco district of Mexico City, López joins the ranks of collectors who have founded their own private museums.

“Jumex changed Mexico City, as did the opening of the great anthropology museum in 1964,” said Marc Porter, chairman of Christie’s Americas. “Eugenios Museum has confidently established the capital as the center of the contemporary art world.”

In front of the museum, López headed the Fundación Jumex Arte Contemporáneo, a non-profit organization in Ecatepec, which he founded in 2001 with the support of Grupo Jumex, the company founded by his father Eugenio López Rodea.

The foundation, which is incorporated into the museum, gives awards to curators and artists for postgraduate studies abroad; draws and lends art for large exhibitions; and supports a variety of educational programs in Mexico and the United States.

The Museo Jumex was faced with upheaval last year after several departures, in particular the artistic director Julieta González and the deputy director Rosario Nadal, after the management had quietly changed hands. (No one was available for comment and López declined to discuss it.)

With more than 2,800 works, the López collection is one of the largest in Latin America. In 2006 the Los Angeles Times put López’s total spending on art at $ 50 to 80 million; López said that number was “now higher”, although he would not give precise details.

His tastes are bold and eclectic, with works by blue-chip artists like Donald Judd (one of his vertically hung “Stack” projects) and Jeff Koons (a sculpture in the backyard) alongside works by Mexican artists like Gabriel Orozco, Mariana Castillo Deball, José Dávila and Pia Camil – everything in consultation with. Bought Esthella Provas, a close friend and art consultant.

His house is a feast for the eyes for every art lover, with works on all surfaces – a Catalan here, a judge there, a Rauschenberg around the corner. His Mexico City home is also filled with heavyweights like Richard Serra, Julie Mehretu, Lucio Fontana, and Ellsworth Kelly.

López is a board member of the New Museum of Contemporary Art in New York and vice chairman of the Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles, where he and his former president Jeffrey Soros launched a fundraising campaign in 2013 to establish a $ 100 million foundation.

In a recent mid-century interview at his Los Angeles home, López talked about the development of his deep love for art.

From 1994 you ran the contemporary art gallery Chac Mool in Los Angeles for 12 years with Esthella, who has remained your art advisor. How did this experience influence your work as a collector?

I didn’t want to let go of every piece that came into the gallery.

What was the first large piece you bought?

A Robert Motherwell at Sotheby’s for $ 160,000 in 1995 when I was 26 years old. It was the first time in my life that I had a real passion for something.

How did you learn about art?

I went to museums – harassed people, asked them questions – curators, collectors, got to know galleries. I lied to my dad that I went to the Dallas machine shop when I really went to the Menil Collection opening [in Houston].

How did you decide what to buy?

I always bought something that I loved. When I bought this Brice Marden, my father said no more than $ 300,000. I thought, “I want it, I want it, I want it.” I bought it for $ 260,000.

What made you decide to set up the foundation?

In 1995 I visited Saatchi’s collection in London and thought, “I can do something like that in Mexico” – share my art with people like the IBM Collection, the Chase Manhattan Bank, the DuPont [company] in Europe.

What are your favorite genres?

I love the Abstract Expressionists and Pop Art.

Your favorite artist?

Twombly. I have six twomblys. It’s something I can’t explain to you. Why? Because I haven’t seen this kind of aesthetic in any other work of art. It looks like a child’s doodle.

They don’t often sell art. What do you think of those who see art as an investment?

You see it like the stock market right now, and art is not the stock market. Something is not right. Of course, you can’t help but see an artist sell for $ 3 million and you feel smart and incredible and feel, “What a genius I am,” but that wasn’t that. There are a lot of works of art that I have bought that I still love and nothing happened to them. But I still love her.

You split your time between Los Angeles and Mexico. What makes you keep coming back here?

The happiest moments of my life were in this house. I am Mexican; Mexico is my great love. But my hometown is Los Angeles. Nowhere else in my life do I feel more comfortable.