Tom Böttiger is a passionate collector of contemporary art, mainly by Swedish artists. Walking into the office of internet consultants Cloud Nine in Stockholm, of which Tom is the Founder, one is greeted by artwork everywhere you look, in the form of paintings, photography and sculptures spread out all over the office space. Among this, the internationally iconic portrait of Nelson Mandela with raised fist to his forehead by Hans Gedda. Tom takes small groups on tour of the collection at Cloud Nine, passionately explaining each piece. Tom is also a story teller, every single piece in his collection comes with its own story, stories I have heard in the many years of our friendship. His collection is diverse and interesting, having started collecting since he was in his twenties, many of the artists have become friends, and he regularly attends art events and fairs. He now works almost full time with his collection, with visits to museums, galleries and auctions, hanging and loaning out of artwork, cataloguing, showing and continuing to add pieces to his already large collection. This year he was one of the judges at the yearly Spring Salon at Liljevalchs.
You have had an interest in art from a very young age, how did this develop?
A deep interest in art has always existed in our family. My Grand Uncle John Böttiger was an art historian and head curator at the Royal Palace, being responsible for all the artwork there. My Grandfather Erik Böttiger was a pediatrician and royal physician to the then King and the Princesses, and parents were flocking to him as it was quite prestigious to be sharing a royal pediatrician. He was also a very competent doctor and as a show of thanks, he had received as gifts many paintings by well known artists. So you could say that the appreciation of art runs in my blood. My deep interest for contemporary art begin in the eighties when I was active in the advertising industry. Working with some of Sweden’s leading photographers and illustrators and witnessing their strong sense of integrity left a very strong impression on me and led me into the wonderful world of contemporary art.
When you first started acquiring art, what were you attracted to?
I started buying art in the late eighties. Driven purely by my heart and instincts. To have interaction with the artists is of utmost importance to me, I have met almost all the artists of the works I have in my collection. For me every new artwork acquired is like falling in love, a completely euphoric sense of happiness derived from a beautiful work of art.
What was the very first piece of art you purchased?
My first important purchase was ”Sans Doute” (1988 )by Martin Wickström.
Most of the art in your collection is by Swedish artists, is there a reason for this?
The reason why the collection is mainly Swedish is because I like meeting the artists. This creates a deeper and more profound understanding and appreciation of the work. And of course, I would like to collect the best of each these artists, to do so, one has to be able to see as much of the artists’ work as possible. This hasn’t afforded me the time to focus on the International scene, although it may be about time I do so.
What is the reason that Swedish artists are not so well represented in Galleries, Auctions and international art fairs abroad?
Many galleries hold back their artists from the international scene. I do believe it has to do with financial reasons. When a Swedish Artist becomes well known internationally, so will the cost of his or her artwork also rise. The Swedish gallerists are unable to sell all the work of the artist in a land as small as Sweden, to match the high prices they will start commanding. The sales will then shift to the international gallery and the Swedish gallerist will stand to lose his commission.
Do you have a favourite artist?
Yes, my favourite is my close friend, Martin Wickström. I have over 50 pieces from him alone.
You are very involved in the local art scene, being a judge at the hugely popular Liljevalchs Spring Salon. How would you describe the Swedish art scene today?
The Swedish art scene is very exciting at the moment. Unfortunately prices for works by young artists have gone through the roof, which is not so good. There will soon be an adjustment of this. It is also extremely exciting that photography has made such an impact here, I will say thanks to Fotografiska, The Museum of Photography in Stockholm. I do wish to see a limit set for the copies produced so that photography can be closer to that of the originality of an oil painting, bringing more pleasure for us collectors.
How has your collecting style evolved through the years?
The collection has grown to almost 350 pieces of artwork. One leads to another, sometimes I find artwork that complements other works that I already own. But through my eyes there is a red thread that runs through the whole collection. There has been a little more photography over the last few years.
Is there a plan in the future for a museum to house the whole collection?
A dream of mine is to build a house that will be able to showcase the whole collection. Not a museum, but a home for me and my children. I am in talks with one of Sweden’s leading architects and it will be a collaboration with one of the artists represented in my collection. A total dream project.
What advice would you give a young artist today?
Young artists should find a gallery to represent them. A gallery provides a stamp of approval, and I do think that it is unfortunate that it has come to that. There are some buyers who choose to buy art that has not passed by the gallerists and curators’ discerning eyes. I believe that in the future this will change. Being a free agent is another way, to sell the art on the Internet, but that will take time before it becomes more acceptable.
What are your plans for the future?
I shall start studying Art History, to gain more knowledge in the theory of art. I think this will enrich my collection and make it even more rewarding. I would also like to step out and make some forays into the international art scene.
Always exciting to see what Tom adds to his collection, here are photos of a few of the artwork and I start off with a personal favourite of mine, Martin Wickström’s “Bad Moon Rising”.