The top Warhol col­lec­tor

Ron Rivlin on his ca­reers in mu­sic, restau­rants and art col­lect­ing by Nikki Gill

Thornhill Post - - Life -

Ron Rivlin be­came an en­tre­pre­neur at age 13 and hasn’t stopped since. He is cur­rently a mu­sic agent and man­ager at his com­pany Coast II Coast En­ter­tain­ment, founder of the Re­volver Gallery with the largest gallery-owned col­lec­tion of Andy Warhol art­work in the world, and a restau­ra­teur.

But back in Grade 9 at Thorn­lea Sec­ondary School, he was more of a ticket scalper.

“I used to call the lo­cal ticket scalpers who ad­ver­tised in the Sun and tell them I go to a school with 2,000 stu­dents and ne­go­ti­ate a dis­count,” says Rivlin. He op­er­ated the busi­ness un­der­cover by post­ing the ticket ads in the boys and girls wash­rooms. Two years later, he be­gan im­port­ing trendy cloth­ing from Gu­atemala and Ecuador to sell to Grate­ful Dead fans.

Al­though each of these busi­nesses was thriv­ing, he says en­trepreneur­ship was some­thing he did out of ne­ces­sity.

“I toured with the Grate­ful Dead from when I was 15 to 20, and to go on the road costs money and to buy tick­ets costs money. So I cre­ated en­tre­pre­neur­ial ven­tures to sup­port that life­style,” he says.

Even­tu­ally that life­style left him broke in Cal­i­for­nia, and he turned to the Cana­dian con­sulate to get enough money to re­turn home via Van­cou­ver, the clos­est en­try point.

Once he made it to Toronto, he went back to school, grad­u­ated with high marks and was ac­cepted to West­ern Univer­sity. Mu­sic still played a big role in his life there, he started Day­breaks Pro­duc­tions and be­came a rave pro­moter.

Later, he opened the tal­ent agency Coast II Coast En­ter­tain­ment. “My first clients were Run-D.M.C. and Biz Markie and a lot of the EDM [elec­tronic dance mu­sic] DJs,” he says.

At the height of his work there, he was rep­re­sent­ing 40 clients and did over $60 mil­lion in sales but has now re­duced his load to three mu­sic acts so he can fo­cus on his col­lec­tion of Warhols.

In 2012, Rivlin vis­ited an old Thorn­lea class­mate who had bought a Mick Jag­ger paint­ing by Warhol for $10,000.

“I wanted one for above my desk so I went out look­ing for one and ev­ery­one was quot­ing me $50,000,” says Rivlin.

He re­al­ized the value had in­creased in a short time, and started track­ing the auc­tion mar­ket. He bought 20 art­works be­fore launch­ing Re­volver Gallery in 2012, and ac­quired more than 100 in his first year. He now owns more than 600 and dis­plays them in his L.A. gallery, where he gets about 2,500 vis­i­tors a week.

In 2015 he brought the col­lec­tion to Yorkville where it at­tracted over 30,000 peo­ple.

Rivlin hopes to tour the col­lec­tion world­wide to ed­u­cate peo­ple about Warhol. That dream may come true as Live Na­tion has ex­pressed in­ter­est in tak­ing his col­lec­tion on tour.

In the mean­time, he’s work­ing on a book on Warhol eco­nom­ics, a doc­u­men­tary about Warhol in the ’80s, and a Warhol-themed res­tau­rant to open in L.A.

“My first clients were Run-D.M.C. and Biz Markie.”

Rivlin is plan­ning to open a Warholthemed res­tau­rant in L.A.

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