Collectors Agnes Gund and Eli Broad join ultra-rich Americans in support of a wealth tax.

Nate Freeman
Jun 25, 2019 4:30PM, via ARTnews

Portrait of Agnes Gund in her New York City home by Emiliano Granado for Artsy.

The chorus of ultra-high-net-worth individuals calling for a wealth tax has grown larger as the presidential election draws closer, and this week two of the country’s most powerful art collectors joined their ranks. Yesterday, The New York Times published a four-page missive with the headline “A Call to Action: A Letter in Support of a Wealth Tax,” a petition signed by more than 18 super-affluent Americans who are begging presidential candidates to implement a system that would force them to face additional taxes unique to their income bracket.

“We are writing to call on all candidates for President, whether they are Republicans or Democrats, to support a moderate wealth tax on the fortunes of the richest 1/10 of the richest 1% of Americans—on us,” the letter opens. “The next dollar of new tax revenue should come from the most financially fortunate, not from middle-income and lower-income Americans.”

Among the signatories, which include George Soros, Abigail Disney, and members of the Pritzker family, is the collector Agnes Gund, an avowed philanthropist who is president emerita of the Museum of Modern Art in New York. She is also a passionate advocate of criminal justice reform, and in 2017 sold Roy Lichtenstein’s Masterpiece (1962) to Steve Cohen for $165 million to bankroll the Art for Justice Fund for five years.

The art collector Eli Broad also came out in favor of the wealth tax this morning via an op-ed in The New York Times affixed with a headline that does not beat around the bush: “I’m in the 1 Percent. Please, Please Raise My Taxes.”

“Don’t get me wrong: I am not advocating an end to the capitalist system that’s yielded some of the greatest gains in prosperity and innovation in human history,” wrote Broad, who is worth $6.7 billion, according to Forbes. “I simply believe it’s time for those of us with great wealth to commit to reducing income inequality, starting with the demand to be taxed at a higher rate than everyone else.”

Neither statement endorses a particular candidate or candidates, but the open letter mentions that Elizabeth Warren, Pete Buttigieg, and Beto O’Rourke support the wealth tax. In his op-ed, Broad mentions Warren, Bernie Sanders, and Senator Ron Wyden.

Nate Freeman