French-italian art collector, photographer, philanthropist and bon vivant
I’m very involved with conservation. I own a lot of land in Panama, about 15,000 acres, which I am not developing. I am trying to put in a foundation to preserve it so that it will stay undeveloped forever. It’s incredibly beautiful and untouched, no villages, no nothing. I bought it over 20 years from more than 150 people.
I went to a dinner party given by Chanel a few years ago in New York. Next to me, it was Kim Kardashian. So she had the chignon, you know, the hair? And she was holding her mouth as if she had a piece of salad on it. But what she didn’t realise was that one of her boobs had jumped out of her dress. So I said, “Your teeth are fine, and your hair, but the... ”
My favourite museum is the MOMA in New York because, when I was a student at Harvard, I would often go there during the weekend. I saw some impressive shows there. There was a great show of Picasso, [and how] he was influenced by African art. We’re doing a show now, of [Congolese sculptor] Bodys Isek Kingelez, and that’s the first time that there will be a solo show by a black African artist at the MOMA. So, it’s a very important thing that’s happening there.
My greatest inspiration is Picasso because he was incredibly creative, and also he changed his style every five or six years. In the same week, he would paint a painting that looked like an impressionist painting on a Monday, and then on Wednesday, he would paint a cubist painting. The guy was so versatile, it was incredible. It was like there were five different artists working, but it was always Picasso.
My favourite restaurant is a restaurant in Nice, in France. It’s called La Petite Maison. They make incredible black truffle sandwiches. The lady who runs the restaurant is very tough. She will not give you two.
My favourite city is Los Angeles, I think. It’s an incredible mix of Beverly Hills and Koreatown and Chinatown and the hills and Malibu, and the hippies and all that. It’s such a spread-out city, but it has very interesting different communities. I could never live in Norway or something, where everybody is white, and everybody is very normal. I could never live in a place like that.
I’ve had a lot of dogs: one was called Mick for Mick Jagger, one called Jimmy for Jimmy Goldsmith. I always name my dogs after friends of mine. So, then I decided to do Charles Saatchi. I called [my two dogs] Charles and Saatchi. Three years ago, I started taking photographs of them. [In the introduction to my book, Charles and Saatchi: The Dogs, available in Galerie Gmurzynska], Saatchi wrote if he came back in another life he’d like to be one of my dogs.