Betty and Isaac Rudman: collecting a diverse array of art and artifacts

Betty and Isaac Rudman: collecting a diverse array of art and artifacts

Selena Mattei | Jan 5, 2024 5 minutes read 0 comments

Betty and Isaac Rudman, a couple based in the Dominican Republic, amassed their wealth through the import and manufacturing of home appliances. However, their true passion lies in collecting a diverse array of art and artifacts...

Life and Spirituality in Haitian Art. Collection of the Betty and Isaac Rudman Trust / MOCA Selection from the Betty and Isaac Rudman Trust Collection, at the Museum of Contemporary Art. @_ocanews_

Who are Betty and Isaac Rudman?

Betty and Isaac Rudman, a couple based in the Dominican Republic, amassed their wealth through the import and manufacturing of home appliances. However, their true passion lies in collecting a diverse array of art and artifacts, ranging from Latin American art to rare coins and pre-Columbian treasures. They proudly display a stunning collection of 150 pieces in their three residences, while an additional 250 artworks are carefully stored in Miami. Notably, a select few pieces have been lent to an ambassador's residence in Santo Domingo.

The Rudmans' collection boasts a significant concentration of Cuban art, encompassing the works of 19th-century painter Vicente Escobar, early modernist artists such as Amelia Pelàez and Wilfredo Lam, and contributions from renowned Latin American artists. Among their cherished treasures, they hold Wilfredo Lam's iconic 1943 masterpiece, "Le Sombre Malmebo, Dieu Du Carrefour," which holds an estimated market value of $12 million to $15 million, marking it as the crown jewel of their collection.

Their commitment to collecting extends to delving deeply into specific artistic practices, exemplified best by their substantial holdings of Wilfredo Lam's works. In 2018 alone, the Rudmans invested around $1.5 million in acquiring Lam's art.

Years ago, recognizing their ever-expanding collection would outgrow their accommodations, the Rudmans constructed an entirely new house dedicated solely to housing their art. Furthermore, in 2015, Heritage Auctions presented "The Isaac Rudman Collection of Mexican Coins, Part I," a remarkable assembly of colonial Mexican coins, regarded as one of the most exceptional collections ever assembled. This collection was featured as part of the World and Ancient Coins auction at the American Numismatic Association Convention in Chicago.

Cristiano Bierrenbach, Vice President of Heritage, praised Isaac as one of the most prominent collectors of Latino/Caribbean coins, artifacts, documents, currency, and fine art in history.

Despite Isaac's profound appreciation for coins and numismatics, when asked about the most sentimental piece in his collection by ARTnews, he promptly mentioned "La Perla (1950) by Rufino Tamayo." His sentimental attachment to this artwork is deeply personal, as it shares its name, "La Perla," with his beloved mother, making it an incredibly cherished and sentimental treasure in his expansive collection.

The story of a collector

At some point in our lives, each of us has held dear an object, perhaps seemingly insignificant, driven solely by our innate curiosity. Yet, for some, this simple curiosity evolves into a fervent passion, bordering on obsession. They don't just value their acquisitions for their unique qualities but also for the profound sentimental value they emanate. Such is the remarkable journey of Isaac Rudman.

Over the passing years, Rudman has undergone a transformation into a highly regarded collector, earning distinction among the most esteemed collectors in Latin America and securing a place among the top 200 collectors globally, a recognition bestowed upon him by the prestigious Art News magazine.

His journey into the world of collecting commenced during his arrival in the Dominican Republic in 1963, a pivotal moment when Rudman was enchanted by the realm of numismatics—the study and accumulation of coins and paper currency bearing the official design of their respective nations.

His initial foray into the world of art unfolded at an auction, where the captivating beauty of the displayed artworks compelled him to make his maiden acquisitions, some of which he continues to safeguard with great care to this very day.

"In the beginning, there were paintings to adorn the house. As time went by, a house was required to adorn the paintings," Rudman fondly reminisces.

When questioned about whether a collector can be likened to an addict, Isaac responds with a smile. "I've posed this very question to many of my collector friends, and their unanimous response has always been: yes, indeed. To me, a collector is, to a large extent, akin to a hunter; the pivotal essence lies in the pursuit of the next acquisition. While the chase is ongoing, the surge of adrenaline that courses through your veins is truly remarkable. However, once the object is secured, the excitement of the hunt diminishes. Fortunately, before long, another item emerges that reignites the flames of passion."

Over the years, he has achieved the remarkable feat of amassing a vast and invaluable collection of rare coins, standing as some of the most sought-after and esteemed treasures in the world.

Over the course of four decades, the collector's unwavering dedication was directed toward the preservation of coins. Nevertheless, the collector emphasizes that harboring a passion for these subjects is by no means a simple endeavor.

"For a collector, not everything is sheer enjoyment. Particularly when delving into areas such as numismatics and philately, and to a somewhat lesser extent, all other facets of collecting, there comes a responsibility to safeguard these works, engage in scholarly study, classify them meticulously, and undertake thorough research to preserve the historical narratives that these objects bear witness to. On a personal level, my most profound sense of achievement as a collector of our country's philatelic and numismatic history lies in the act of rescuing these scattered artifacts from every corner of the globe and returning them to their rightful place, here in our homeland," Rudman proudly asserts.

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