Today's generation of rich techies isn't known for having much interest in anything outside of their narrow world of tech. But that's not true for the older generation. Larry Ellison, founder of Oracle, is well known for his interest in Japanese art and culture.
Now you can see 64 pieces from his collection in a new exhibit at San Francisco's Asian Art museum called, "In the moment."
Examples such as Mr. Ellison's charming cat painting from his collection (above), suggests a sensitive side to this self-assured billionaire and his lifestyle of dangerously fast sailboat racing combined with high finance and consistently excellent M&A execution that has built up Oracle into a giant in very lucrative enterprise IT markets.
He's Silicon Valley's most successful CEO in terms of his long leadership and the shareholder value he's created over a long career. Interestingly, Oracle's start was from contract work for the CIA.
Art critics have been very impressed with the art collection, describing it as one of the finest in the US. Robert Taylor, writing in the San Jose Mercury, said that Mr. Ellison "has taste as well as money."
This is not a billionaire's pretentious display of the art he's purchased. It's a superb introduction to Japanese art spanning 1,000 years…
Maybe this will encourage the 40 year old generation of successful techies in and around Google, Facebook, Salesforce, Twitter, even Sand Hill Road, start collecting art, or get involved as patrons of the arts in some ways.
I'd love to see what type of art Google's Larry Page and Sergey Brin would choose to collect. I'm guessing there would be a Lichtenstein and a Damien Hirst or three, (I hope they get the shark). Marc Benioff at Salesforce.com should start an art collection, too, and lend part of it out to local museums. It's a win-win for these global brands and their local communities.
IN THE MOMENT: JAPANESE ART FROM THE LARRY ELLISON COLLECTION'
Through: Sept. 22
Asian Art Museum, 200 Larkin St., San Francisco
10 a.m.-5 p.m. Tuesday-Sunday, until 9 p.m. Thursday
Admission: $8-$12; $5 Thursday after 5 p.m. 415-581-3500, www.asianart.org.
Cat pictures from the collection: