Helga de Alvear

German Spanish-based collector and gallerist

A collector with pockets deep enough to keep artists, dealers and even, it has been said, the occasional art fair afloat, German-born de Alvear is also Spain’s most prominent gallerist. And she’s just endowed a foundation in her adopted country’s Cáceres with a 2,500-strong collection of, well, you name it: Flavin, Judd, Smithson and a raft of international and Spanish artists working today.

She’s as likely to buy works off a neighbouring Art Basel stand as to crow about her gallery’s own significant successes, and she has a fiercely loyal following among artists – witness the roll call of contemporary stars who showed up for a weekend of celebrations at her foundation’s opening in June, led by the Serpentine’s Hans Ulrich Obrist and shadowed by the Beyeler Foundation’s Sam Keller.

But behind all this love and fellow-feeling lies an unshakeable belief in her own taste: ‘I collect with my eyes, not my ears’. And she’s no pushover: Cáceres’s city fathers won’t be getting the bulk of her collection until they commit to a new Mansilla & Tuñon-designed home for it. Just give her the building, we say.