It used to be that you’d buy art for the sake of enjoying it. There were the Medicis and Catherine the Great but also Gertrude Vanderbilt Whitney, Peggy Guggenheim, Gertrude Stein, and John and Dominique de Menil, people who acquired art because of the pleasure as well as the prestige of it. Oftentimes they knew the artists personally, and they surrounded themselves with their work.
Today there are still those collectors who buy art and keep it—even when they have an eye toward one day selling it, and even if they don’t know a whole lot about art, such as Steve Cohen or Jeff Bezos. For the most part, these high-net-worth individuals are staying close to their purchases. Then there are art dealers, who are a step removed from the artwork—their job is to flip it—but in this process, the art is often put on display for the general public. At least someone is seeing it, until it heads to auction again.