GAM’s association with the visual arts originated with its founder, Gilbert de Botton, a visionary financier and well-known patron and leading collector of modern and contemporary art. His legacy at GAM is an organisational culture that seeks to identify and nurture talent, whether that is in the world of asset management or in the arts. Today GAM continues to support the international contemporary art scene, to identify budding artists, and to introduce young children to the joys of visual art and galleries.
Gilbert de Botton founded GAM in 1983 with the purpose of providing access to the world’s finest investment talent.
Gilbert was a legendary patron of modern and contemporary art. He recognised early the greatness of Picasso’s late paintings, and collected the best of them. He bought Freud before he was fashionable, and the painter introduced him to Francis Bacon: both made portraits of him. He persuaded Bacon to donate his Second Version of Triptych 1944 (1988) to Tate, and arranged for GAM to sponsor exhibitions by Bacon (1985) and Picasso (1988).
Gilbert was an important benefactor of Tate. As a trustee from 1985 to 1992, he helped to raise its international profile, serving as founder chairman of both its International Council and of the Tate Gallery Foundation. He was a moving force, as well as a substantial patron, in the creation of Tate Modern, where one of the main galleries is named after him.
In October 1996, his widow Janet Wolfson de Botton, also widely renowned as a collector of contemporary art, donated 60 important works to the Tate Collection. With this gift, Tate was able to strengthen its representation of Gilbert & George, Carl Andre, Richard Artschwager, Cindy Sherman, Richard Long and Gary Hume amongst others. Other important works include an early Electric Chair by Andy Warhol and Elephant (1984) by Bill Woodrow. Janet Wolfson de Botton has been closely involved with Tate for a number of years and was appointed a trustee in 1992. She is known as an advocate and collector of contemporary art and her gift was made as a gesture of support for the creation of Tate Modern and Tate Britain.
GAM continues to be a supporter of both Tate and the Royal Academy of Arts.