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Dani Levinas, Art Enthusiast Who ‘Collected Collectors,’ Dies at 75

Dani Levinas, an art collector who gained a following for interviewing other collectors, has died at 75. The Phillips Collection in Washington, D.C., where he formerly served as board chair, announced his death on Wednesday.

“Dani Levinas’s passion and enthusiasm for art by living artists will have an enduring impact on The Phillips Collection,” said current board chair John Despres in a statement. “We will truly miss his inspiration and guidance.”

With his wife Mirella, Levinas bought up a significant grouping of works by Latin American artists, acquiring pieces by Jose Dávila, Cildo Meireles, Gabriel de la Mora, Iván Navarro, Jorge Pardo, and more. Yet his collection also came to include works by artists based outside the region, with works by Anish Kapoor and Amalia Pica as well.

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A blocky museum building with people standing in front of it.

“I love to help artists, but I also enjoy living with the pieces,” he told the New York Times in 2020.

His most lasting legacy within the art world, however, is not his collection, but his conversations with his colleagues, from the late Rosa de la Cruz to the collecting couple Don and Mera Rubell. He published these interviews in a 2023 book called The Guardians of Art: Conversations with Major Collectors and as articles in El País, where he served as a columnist. “I don’t just collect art, I collect collectors,” he said in the Times interview.

Born in 1948 to Jewish migrants who had departed Europe for Argentina, Levinas went on to depart for the United States in 1981 amid the rise of a military junta in his home country. He launched his own company and through it sold prepaid debit cards.

He served as board chair at the Phillips Collection from 2016 to 2022, and was also involved in the board of the Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden.

He spoke of his collection as a permanently evolving entity, telling the Times, “After 50 years of collecting, you change; the artwork changes and you change, too.”

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