THE COLLECTIONS OF BILL GATES
The collections of Bill Gates
The technology pioneer, philanthropist and collector
Bill Gates focussing on philanthropy Bill Gates is one of the founders of the personal computer revolution and has been the richest man in the world for most of the past 15 years due to Microsoft's enterprise and power.
He currently has $40bn, though this is down from an all time high of $101bn; partly due to his doing philanthropic work rather than remaining CEO of Microsoft.
With his wife Melinda, he is listed at the second biggest donor to good causes in the world (after close friend and fellow multi-billionaire Warren Buffett). His IQ has been estimated at 170.
William H Gates III was born in Seattle. When he was aged about 14, his school, Lakeside, bought a computer terminal and some computer time with money from a jumble sale. Gates took an enormous interest in programming and was excused maths to experiment.
He sought more computer time, and exploited loopholes in the local computer company's system to use it for free.
As a result he, (along with 3 other students including later co-founder of Microsoft Paul Allen) was banned by the company - only to be hired by the owner who paid him in computer time and later royalties to track down loopholes, and later program for them.
Lakeside later asked him to create a complete a class schedule. "I surreptitiously added a few instructions and found myself nearly the only guy in a class full of girls", Gates later commented.
He attended Harvard, but dropped out to pursue his business interests, co-founded Microsoft and the rest is history.
Gates has collected a number of things, including the famous Codex Leicester - a particularly coveted collection of Leonardo da Vinci's writings - which he bought for 19m and then scanned and distributed digitally.
Codex Leicester (click to enlarge)
"I really had a lot of dreams when I was a kid, and I think a great deal of that grew out of the fact that I had a chance to read a lot." Gates once said.
He also owns several collectible cars including a Porsche 930 Turbo, a Mercedes, a Jaguar XJ6 and a Ferrari 348.
But his greatest interest is in art.
His most famous acquisition is Lost on the Grand Banks painted in 1898 by American artist Winslow Homer.
Gates bought it on the centenary of its painting for $36 million - the highest price ever paid for an American painting.
It was the last major seascape by Winslow Homer still in private hands.
Gates's first known major art purchase, was Distance Thunder 1961 painted by Andrew Wyeth (known as the 'Painter of the People' in America) in 1961. Gates bought it for $7m in 1996.
The rest of Gates's vast art collection is likewise dominated by American painters, including:
Impressionist William Merritt Chase's The Nursery ($10m), George Bellows's Polo Crowd ($28m - Bellows has been described as "the most acclaimed American artist of his generation") and Childe Hassam's Room of Flowers ($20m).
Co-founder of Microsoft, Paul Allen, also has a vast art collection, though a more classically styled one, including artists such as Czanne, Gauguin and Monet.
The vast amount he paid for the Homer in particular suggests Gates is collecting for the love of the works alone.
Photo credit: Domain Barnyard at Flickr.com