“They had been exposed, but they weren’t comfortable with it,” Rachofsky said. He hoped the domestic environment and fleshed-out wall labels would assuage some of that anxiety. “My goal was to not only sell something and raise some money, but be informative. It could be like…an intellectual safe house.”
The first charity auction at Two by Two raised $100,000, indicating some appetite for contemporary art among Dallas collectors. Rachofsky decided to hold it again the next year, and in the two decades since, it’s became an essential punch on the Dallas society dance card, raising $75 million for amFAR and the DMA. It can also be credited with turning some deep-pocketed Dallas residents into full-fledged patrons of contemporary art.
“This gave them a chance to be philanthropic,” Rachofsky said, “and a few people developed into real collectors over time, collectors on a real higher level.”
Over the next few years, Rachofsky decided to step away from his hedge fund to concentrate full-time on developing his collection, and running the annual Two by Two gala. Then, in 2008, Sughrue, the Dallas Art Fair founder, started talking with local art consultant Chris Byrne about opening an art fair in one of Sughrue’s properties, Fashion Industry Gallery, a large space in the city’s arts district. Naturally, the duo approached Rachofsky, as he was one of the city’s biggest arts patrons, to see what he thought of the idea. He was skeptical.