Richard Harris Art Collection

This past weekend we had the pleasure of filming with Richard Harris, the worlds most well known collector of objects dealing with death and dying.

Mr Harris grew up in New York and graduated from Queens College with a degree in Economics and a strong background in art history. He started his career path at an art reproductions business selling copies of old master paintings to businesses.

His introduction to antique prints began as he worked for two dealers who bought and sold botanical prints and prints with birds and animals. From there he went out on his own, confident in his ability to create his own collections. His story is best told in his own words: “I have accumulated over 2000 objects exploring the related themes of death and mortality.”

Over the past 40 years he has created four distinct art collections that, looking back in hindsight, represent the four different ways of collecting. "My first collection was antique illustrated books, a collection I formed while I searched Europe for antique prints for my print business. Running parallel to the book collection, I started collecting prints by Rembrandt, Picasso and Matisse. I enlisted the expertise of several print dealers to find and recommend prints for this collection."

"In 2001, I discovered the inspiration for my third collection: objects related to death. I decided that, unlike my print collection, it would not be another 'trophy' collection, in which an expert consultant’s taste would determine the content. At this point in my collecting life, I wanted to test my own eye and had the time to devote to the acquisition process. I have accumulated over 2000 objects exploring the related themes of death and mortality."

"My fourth collection is "De Humani Corporis Fabrica" [On the Fabric of the Human Body]. There is also a fifth commissioned collection that will be completed in the Spring, that I don't yet want to identify."

"This completes the very rare five ways I've collected:

1 - The Antique Book Collection- I call my inadvertent collection that I accumulated over 30 years as I was buying for my Antique Print business.

2 - Print collection: Rembrandt, Picasso and Matisse that I bought with the help of Print Dealers.

3 - "Death Collection"- I wanted to test my own art buying "eye" without any assistance.

4 - "Human Anatomy Collection"- Again, I put together on my own.

5 - "?" Collection that I commissioned an artist to create for me.

From inadvertent, to being helped, to put together on my own, and finally to commissioning works of art. This is very unusual collecting growth that I've been a part of."

We are excited to have Richard featured in our film" The Embrace of Dying"

To read about Richards collection you can go to this link: