Seventy-four-year-old former truck driver Enrique Serrato lives in a two-bedroom apartment in Los Angeles, but there's one thing you won't find there: a bed. That's because Serrato has completely filled his home with more than 6,500 pieces of art ranging from paintings to sketches to a huge collection of ceramics that is thought to be unmatched on the West Coast.
Serrato's collection is something of a local secret: whenever he sells a piece, it's simply to buy more pieces. As a result, he has garnered a reputation as a self-taught expert in the fields of American and Chicano art dating from the '60s.
Serrato has been collecting for 58 years, since he was just 16 years old.
It takes a certain kind of person to begin collecting sheerly for the love of art, but that's exactly what makes Serrato so interesting. When he began collecting, he didn't think of the resale or investment potential, but instead focused on buying things that he liked. He's never paid more than $200 for a piece and currently owns, among other things, an original Dali print now valued at $6,000.
The original price? $150.
The soft-spoken Serrato is now the subject of a short documentary by Patrick Kennedy.
Featuring interviews with well-known art experts, the film takes viewers on a journey of Enrique Serrato's home, where art literally covers every surface. Beneath furniture, atop shelves, stacked in hallways, illuminating walls, the collection takes up the entirety of the residence. And that's exactly how he likes it.
Commenting on his unorthodox sleeping arrangement (the floor), the collector simply says, "I'd rather have more art than a bed."
Unbelievably, Serrato was almost totally unknown until just 10 years ago.
Talking about finally opening his home to fellow collectors, Serrato reveals that he waited for a very long time before letting people share in his ardor. "I was that private collector that no one knew about. I think that was the most exciting for me," Serrato says in the documentary, "is always wanting to get it home and knowing that it was mine, there was a place for it. Never thinking that I would have one day over 6,000 pieces."
His passion is evident as he eagerly walks the audience through his tightly packed house, talking about how he would often buy the things he liked in installments, paying $5 a week until each work was paid off.
Of Serrato, filmmaker Kennedy says ,"His obsessiveness is a brilliance. Enrique is a martyr for his art."
As for his future plans? "They're going to have to put me in a box," Serrato says with a laugh. "That's the only way I'm going to start collecting is when I die."