When Starting a Collection Coincides With a Wedding
Noah Tepperberg, who is known for being one of the founders of several nightclubs and restaurants, including Lavo and Tao, with outlets in New York and beyond, says art interests him almost as intensely as his business does.
The proof is in the Greenwich Village apartment he shares with his family, and the excitement in his voice when he talks about the collection there.
Although Mr. Tepperberg, 43, has been acquiring art for about 20 years, he and his wife, Melissa Wood-Tepperberg, 36, started building a new collection when they married in 2016.
“We have very different tastes, and I didn’t like a lot of what he had,” Ms. Wood-Tepperberg, a wellness coach and instructor in yoga and Pilates, explained. “Finding pieces that we both love hasn’t been easy.”
All of their works are contemporary and come from widely scattered sources. They have work by a Portuguese street artist known as Vhils, and pieces by New York artists including Peter Tunney, Jojo Anavim and FAILE (a collaboration between the Brooklyn based-Patrick McNeil and Patrick Miller).
These are edited excerpts from the conversation.
If you each had to pick a favorite work from your collection here, what would it be?
MS. WOOD-TEPPERBERG The painting in our den by Tigran Tsitoghdzyan. It’s of me, but I don’t love it because of that. I love it because of the story behind it and because I’m a fan of images of women in general — their faces, their bodies.
I met Tigran through a friend, and he asked if he could paint me. I went to his studio in Lower Manhattan, and he took pictures of my face and hands and painted this piece based on those. He created two — one as a gift for us and the other to sell. It ended up selling at Art Basel, in Miami.
MR. TEPPERBERG For me, it’s the camouflage leather Louis Vuitton canvas in the den by Takashi Murakami. I got it at the gift shop of the Brooklyn Museum when I went to see his show there in 2008. At the time, it was the most expensive piece I had ever bought, but I knew it was special. I am generally drawn to pieces that have an interesting story, but sometimes I love the pieces because they’re by an artist I already know and love. That was the case with Murakami. I was long a fan of his. Call it bias, but I think that influenced my attraction to the piece.
Most of your art is in bright colors, but the largest piece in your living room, a collection of different images of food and objects, is in black and white. What’s the story behind it?
MR. TEPPERBERG It’s by Gregory Siff, who grew up in Brooklyn and moved to L.A. I love the pictures of the surfboards, French fries and ice cream cones.
MS. WOOD-TEPPERBERG Everything Gregory does is happy and has an amazing story. This piece to me is all about New York.
You’ve got some unusual sculptures, including the wood door near your entryway with the face of a woman.
MR. TEPPERBERG A friend of mine who lives in Miami is friendly with Vhils [the street artist] and was with him one afternoon when he was in Miami for a show. My friend spontaneously bought two wooden doors, and right then and there, in about 30 minutes, Vhils chiseled them both. My friend bought one, and I bought the other. I was so happy when we got it. Up close, you can’t tell exactly what it is, but if you step back, you can see that it’s a woman’s face.
The blue canvas with white and black flowers in your guest room doesn’t look contemporary compared with your other pieces.
MR. TEPPERBERG It is and was a wedding gift from [the actor] Adrien Brody who is a talented artist and sells his works. We became friends over the years and have traveled together. He sent it to us the day after the wedding, and we both loved it. I like the color, and obviously, when you’re friends with the artist, you feel a different connection to the work.
Have you ever worked with an art consultant?
MS. WOOD-TEPPERBERG No. We have very specific tastes and buy based on what appeals to us.
MR. TEPPERBERG I’ve never paid anyone for art advice. We have lots of friends who collect art and know a lot about it. I learn from them and ask them questions if I’m thinking about buying something. You could call them unofficial consultants.
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