Jean Albou was born in Casablanca, Morocco, in 1957. After earning a PhD in philosophy he worked as a teacher. In 1990 he became adviser to one of the richest families in the United States and the manager of the family fortune, building up a major art collection for his client between 1990 and 2007 while buying works of art for himself at the same time.
On close terms with César and Arman, he advised other private collectors and as an exhibition curator organised major retrospectives in Monaco.
In October 2007, he was appointed to the Development Commission of the Artcurial auction house. Later, in January 2008, he sold his own collection of contemporary art and photography through the same auctioneers. But sales were not as successful as expected. Secretly suffering from manic depression, Albou had amassed colossal debts which he was not able to pay off. And so began a long descent into hell.
His autobiographical work, Un fou dans l'art. Confessions d'un serial-collectionneur, has been published by Editions de La Martinière, in October 2010.
Jean Albou is finishing his new autobiographical book entitled La vie après (The life after"), about his new life with his parents under legal guardianship.… A strange and hard experience but told with Jean Albou's charming sense of humour.
Un fou dans l'art. Confessions d'un serial-collectionneur
(La Martinière, France, October 2010)
Jean Albou rubbed shoulders with the cream of contemporary art. As a wealth manager, he built up one of Europe’s major art collections for a client. In the art world his reputation was firmly established.
But Albou also suffered in secret from bipolar disorder: he was a manic depressive. His fits drove him into a world of extravagant spending – ten thousand euros on bottles of wine, thirty thousand on lunches – a world where a watch cost the price of a car, a house the price of an entire building block, where the biggest collectors were often predators and where bad paintings sometimes sold for more than works of art.
Jean Albou started to seek medical help when he was 20. For a long time he had to grapple with the incompetence of many psychiatrists and the hazards of some therapies, psychoanalysis especially. Until he was 40, none of the psychiatrists who treated him managed to come up with the right diagnosis.
His fascinating story of a rise to giddy heights, followed by a pitiless, lonely fall, is not merely a unique account of the small, very secretive communities of contemporary art and psychiatry. It is also a strong, ironic denunciation of the endless excesses of a crazy time when money seemed all powerful.
Film rights sold to:
Kobayashi Films (France)