Ben Heller, Pioneering Collector of Abstract Expressionism: ‘There’s Nobody Else in That League’

Ben Heller’s storied Central Park West apartment was visited by thousands each year. Among his most important holdings was Jackson Pollock’s monumental Blue Poles, which was hung on its own wall.COURTESY NATIONAL GALLERY OF AUSTRALIA

Ben Heller, who died in 2019, amassed a legendary collection of Abstract Expressionism, supporting artists like Jackson Pollock, Mark Rothko, and others at a time when few else would. But before he dispersed his works to some of the world’s top museums, in particular the Museum of Modern Art in New York, he kept them in his Central Park West apartment. Thousands of visitors made the pilgrimage each year to his home to see masterpieces by the likes of Pollock, Rothko, Franz Kline, and Barnett Newman, with Rothko even referring to Heller’s apartment as “the Frick of the West Side.”

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@peepso_user_31(Denise Durak)
Interesting read! I guess I am glad I am not into collecting "Big" or I should say I am not a Big Collector, lol!

I love that piece by Pollock and I can see how Australia would be a place it would be appreciated.

How did Heller obtain the funds to purchase these paintings? What did he do for a living or was he independently wealthy? Pretty pricy!

Another thing I was really aware of while reading is that I automatically now interject "letting people into your apartment during COVID with the very visceral feeling of Ug and Uk!! Wondering if anyone else looks back now, maybe thinking of an event you went to, or watching a movie where social distancing is not observed .. and have that reaction? It's just so automatic for me!

Although this might be a little OT it really isn't. The pandemic has had such a world wide impact on all of us. I am wondering how we will look back at this time period and the art created during the pandemic, and what we will read into it .. like size was an obstacle in Pollock's era, what are the obstacles that will be "understood as part of the Zeitgeist or reference point" when they are later described or written about in critiques?
1 year ago