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#15 Love and Lust—Collector Herbert Lust on Robert Indiana


Guest Herbert Lust with host Charlotte Burns. Photo credit: Matt Noble

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#15 Love and Lust—Collector Herbert Lust on Robert Indiana

BY Charlotte Burns
executive editor of In Other Words

A literature professor and Fulbright scholar turned investment banker, 90-year old Herbert Lust has one of the leading collections of works by artists including Alberto Giacometti, Robert Indiana and Hans Bellmer, among others. 

Lust, who in 1969 wrote one of the first books about art collecting as an investment, talks to our host Charlotte Burns about his extraordinary life, discussing his friendships with artists and passing along some advice for collectors.

Robert Indiana: Works from the Collection of Herbert Lust” was on show at S|2 Gallery from 8 September until 6 October 2017

“In Other Words” is a presentation of AAP and Sotheby’s, produced by

Click here for full transcript

Charlotte Burns: Hello and welcome to In Other Words. I'm your host Charlotte Burns, and joining me today is the collector Herbert Lust, a major collector who began his career in academia, writing avant-garde novels at the University of Chicago and teaching comparative literature. He was the youngest person to…


Herbert Lust


Herbert Lust began his career as an avant-garde writer and comparative literature professor at the University of Chicago. Lust’s devotion to literature (Gertrude Stein is his idol) led him to begin collecting while still a student. At age 19, he made his first acquisition: a wood-cut by the 19th-century Mexican artist José Guadalupe Posada, which he acquired for $1. 

In 1948 at just 21 years old, he received an M.A. in philosophy and mathematics from the University of Chicago. In 1949, Lust received the first Fulbright scholarship granted by the University of Chicago and studied for two years at the Sorbonne in Paris where he met Alberto Giacometti, who became a friend—and whose work he bought directly from the artist. Lust would go on to write the catalogue raisonné for Giacommetti’s works on paper, Alberto Giacometti: The Complete Graphics

Lust switched careers in 1957, becoming an investment banker. He wrote A Dozen Principles for Art Investment in 1969, which was one of the first publications to take an economist’s approach to the art market. He has gone on to write extensively about the artists that he has known and collected, publishing books and essays on art historical figures such as Hans Bellmer and Enrico Baj, among others. 

Charlotte Burns

executive editor of In Other Words

Charlotte Burns is the editor of In Other Words, our weekly newsletters and podcasts. She was previously the US news and market editor for The Art Newspaper, as well as a regular correspondent for publications such as the Guardian and Monocle. Previously, she worked with the London dealer Anthony d’Offay on special projects. For several years, she was a consultant at the cultural communications agency, Bolton & Quinn. She also worked at Hauser & Wirth in London.

Burns received a Masters degree (with Merit) from the Courtauld Institute in Art and Cultural Politics in Germany, 1890-1945, as well as a first-class B.A. honors degree in English and History of Art from Birmingham University. She moved to New York in 2010.

The live record

Behind the Scenes: Love and Lust—Collector Herbert Lust on Robert Indiana

5 Images


By Pablo Helguera

For more on Herbert Lust

Herbert Lust, Octopus Time: Bellmer Painting (2008) published by Ubu Gallery

Herbert Lust and Aprille Galant, Alberto Giacometti Exhibition: Portland, Maine (2000) published by Richard L. Press Fine & Scholarly Books on the Arts

Robert Indiana: Works from the Collection of Herbert Lust” at Sotheby’s S|2 from 8 September-6 October 2017

“‘Robert Indiana: Works from the Collection of Herbert Lust’ at Sotheby’s S2 Gallery, New York” by Blouin Artinfo (July 2017)

“The Chosen Ones: An Interview with Herbert Lust” by Tablet (March 2017)

Where to look

Highlights from "Robert Indiana: Works from the Collection of Herbert Lust"

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