J.P. Morgan’s Private Collection, the Most Impressive in History?

People love collecting. It may now just be a part of human nature. If you collect coins, sports cards, art, antiques or artifacts may not matter. The reality is that once you get the collecting bug it is really hard to get rid of. And the pandemic in 2020 brought the thrill of collecting back front and center and may have only entrenched collecting deeper into the world’s psyche.

In the Summer of 2022 the History Channel launched a series that follows on the path of titans and the great historical figures who helped shape the modern world. This also showed just how crazy some of the private collections of the world’s wealthiest people can be. It turns out even the richest of the rich love collectibles just like you and me. And their deep pockets have allowed them to acquire some incredible artifacts, art, and other great collectibles that the rest of us may not even fathom.

History’s Crazy Rich Ancients episode titled Epic Collection aired on July 17, 2022 from the History Channel. The ultimate collection that will hit home the most for Americans was the personal collection of the great John Pierpont Morgan. One of America’s most successful investment bankers and industrialists during the Gilded Age was one of America’s most prominent robber-barons. But before cancel culture gets too deep into his business dealings, he did at least get credit for organizing a group of financiers together to save the American financial system and economy from total collapse.

J.P. Morgan’s collecting featured art, rare books, manuscripts and antiquities to the likes that would be nearly impossible to fathom by today’s standards. What is now the Morgan Library and Museum in New York City houses much of Morgan’s collection.

Image below of the Gutenberg Bible by

Among the drawings are works from greats such as Leonardo, Michelangelo, Rembrandt, Rubens and countless more. Music sheets by Mozart. Paintings and art from Cezanne, Van Gogh, Rembrandt, Renoir and dozens more are counted among the troves. And among the books and printed materials, how does three different examples of a Gutenberg Bible sound for collecting? A Gutenberg Bible today may easily cost $35 million — or much more, depending upon who is chasing it!

The actual library’s website features multiple videos which highlight the multiple facets of the great collections that were assembled. The value of the collection in today’s dollars and cents was projected to be $1.5 billion. Frankly, it seems that if the items shown and featured were put up for auction that the items would be worth even more than that because institutions such as corporations, museums, libraries and other institutions would be the most likely bidders.

Sadly, none of the featured items ever mentioned anything about sports collectibles.

There were also two interesting factoids that the History Channel threw into this great review. The first is that more than half of Americans collecting something. The second was that the typical annual spending on these collection is $1,000 to $5,000 per year. Where that figure comes from is anyone’s guess.

And while high-end collectibles were featured as great performing assets over time by the History Channel, just remember — there is no such things as a guaranteed profit in any asset you purchase. Abd like everything else in life, you don’t get to take any of this stuff with you when you die.