Patrizia Sandretto Re Rebaudengo’s eye for art has brought her among the world’s leading collectors. But the seed was planted when a friend introduced her to American costume jewelry back in the late 1980s. Sandretto Re Rebaudengo’s impressive cache now counts more than a thousand pieces. “Not only are they amazing, beautiful, glamorous and sparkly,” she says, “but there’s also the history of them being produced in America during a very difficult period—for example, after World War II, when many designers realized great jewelry with very humble materials.” Taschen is to publish a book about her trove this year.
The same friend brought her to London in 1992 to learn about contemporary art. Sandretto Re Rebaudengo fell hard for the artists she met there and launched the Fondazione Sandretto Re Rebaudengo in her hometown of Turin, Italy, just three years later. An exhibition celebrating her 30 years immersed in art, Reaching for the starsis on view at the Palazzo Strozzi Foundation in Florence until June 18.
“For me, it’s very important to buy something that can capture the present but is also able to anticipate the future,” she says. “I have never bought work because I need a painting for the wall above the blue sofa. Art is a way of talking about the moment we live in.”
What have you done for the first time recently?
I bought an island, San Giacomo, in the Venice lagoon between Murano and Burano. It was last used in the Napoleonic period – for gunpowder stores. One of these warehouses will be our home, and the other buildings and all the outdoor parts will be the third meeting place of the Fondazione. We want to produce creative projects around not only art, but also environmental sustainability. We don’t have electricity on the island – we create all the renewable energy.
Which apps do you use the most?
When I’m traveling, I use See Saw gallery guide to keep up to date with exhibitions. And thanks to Libib, I have all my library books at my fingertips. I have about 20,000 books in two libraries. I just put the title or the name of the artist and in a moment I know if it is in my library in Guarene or if it is in Turin and exactly which shelf. I love all my books and I love knowing where they are so this is perfect.
Do you have any personal rituals?
Every morning I wear a necklace or pin a brooch from my American costume jewelry on my dress because I never go out without one.
What advice do you wish you had followed?
I always want to listen to many opinions, but then I have to say, I decide for myself. Maybe you’re making mistakes. But those are your mistakes.
What do you most want at the end of the day?
A glass of rosé from my vineyard in Guarene. We do not sell our wine, StellaRe; it is for us, for our friends. We also use the name for an award for women – a large ring designed by Maurizio Cattelan, the Italian artist.
How do you find peace?
Just a walk in my park among the vines. We have all these site-specific sculptures, chestnut trees, Madernassa pears. Everyone can go, there is no ticket. The sunset is amazing. All around are the Langhe hills.
Who is your guru?
Ever since I started collecting, the figure of Peggy Guggenheim seemed mythical to me. Her life was so dedicated to art.
what is your favourite cocktail?
A Rosita: reposado tequila, dry vermouth, red vermouth and Angostura. It’s very well structured, very flavorful.
What was the first piece of art you bought?
A work by Anish Kapoor. It was May 1992 and gallerist Nicholas Logsdail from the Lisson Gallery in London spent at least two or three days with us visiting studios. Anish Kapoor was one of the first artists I visited and I still remember entering this huge ceiling and on the floor there were yellow, blue and red pigment sculptures. Anish explained his work and it was really something special.
What is the latest addition to your collection?
I bought a wonderful necklace from William de Lillo. It is very large, realized in the 60s. Speaking of art, I just bought a new work by Tauba Auerbach from 2022. I saw it at Art Basel in Basel (Switzerland) last June, and now it’s hanging on the wall in my home.
What’s the last thing you regret not buying?
I would love a piece by David Hammons, the American artist. He really dismantles the stereotypes of capitalist society, but every time I try to buy one of his works, I never succeed. It’s a shame. But never say never.
What is your exercise routine and how often do you do it?
I have a small swimming pool at my home, so two or three times a week at 7 in the morning my personal trainer comes and we do an hour of water aerobics. For me, it’s much easier than going to the gym. I’m a bit lazy.
If you could learn one new skill, what would it be?
I’ve been around art all my life and never had any ability. I would love to sculpt, paint, but I’m sure that will never happen.
Are you wearing a watch?
I used to have my Rolex. But now I wear an Apple Watch that allows me to keep track of my daily step count, my heart rate. I have a Vacheron Constantin watch. It is a nice size, gold with diamonds. It was a gift from my husband which I really like.
What is your favorite hotel?
In Italy, on Capri, it is Punta Tragara. It’s a great hotel; it was realized by Le Corbusier. It is a place that takes your breath away with wonder. The owner is a friend of mine.
Which car(s) are you most attached to?
We still have my Rolls-Royce Silver Shadow, which we used when we got married and then when we had my children’s christenings. I also have cars made by artists. In the Fondazione we have hung a Fiat 126 by Simon Starling. So in my collection I have a Mercedes by Tobias Rehberger, a Peugeot by Julian Opie and a Jason Rhoades.
What music makes you happy?
What puts me in a good mood is ABBA.