Skin Crime 3 (Givenchy 318) by Sylvie Fleury

This is more than a merely academic question for Scholl. Since becoming vice president of the Knight Foundation’s arts program in 2009, he’s overseen the awarding of millions of dollars in grant money— including $1.8 million set aside for Art + Research, a Craig Robins-helmed (and still unopened) post-graduate art school to be run out of Robins’ Design District properties under the auspices of the University of Miami.

“We’ve managed to keep our collecting experience segregated from what I do at the Knight,” Scholl says. “There’s no question I bring that experience to the process, but the only real impact it’s had on our collecting is time.” He continues with a sigh: “I work all the time. I love what I do—that’s not a complaint. It’s a huge opportunity to be impactful in the philanthropy of the art world. But I don’t get to look at art as much anymore.” The Scholls’ solution? “We’ve compartmentalized—all we’re collecting now is aboriginal art and drawings, nothing else.”

Well, almost nothing else. With a chuckle, Scholl recalls a recent visit to Chicago where the couple dropped in on the Kavi Gupta Gallery and a sculpture show by that city’s Theaster Gates riffing on the legacy of the ’60s civil rights movement. “It was like getting hit by lightning!” Scholl enthuses. “I looked at Debra and said, ‘This is it!’

“She said, ‘I know!’

“‘But we don’t collect sculpture anymore. We only collect contemporary drawings and aboriginal paintings.’

“‘I know!’

“So I asked her if she wanted to buy one or two.”

Like what you're reading? Get it delivered straight to your inbox. Sign up now for our newsletters >>