Thursday, January 21, 2021

With New Museums, a Once Disgraced Socialite Looks to Burnish His Legacy

By Raphael Minder
Roberto Polo standing amid “Red Roosenary” (2008) by Maria Roosen, at the Center for Modern and Contemporary Art of Castilla-La Mancha in Toledo, Spain, on Jan. 18. The museum shows pieces from Polo’s personal collection. Maria Roosen/Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York/via Pictoright Amsterdam; Gianfranco Tripodo for The New York Times
CUENCA, Spain — He was once described by Vanity Fair as “a Gatsby for the Reagan era,” but, until recently, life has been quieter for the Cuban-American art collector Roberto Polo. Polo, a financier whose roller-coaster career included a major art fraud scandal that landed him in prison, has recently resurfaced in central Spain, where last month he defied the coronavirus pandemic to inaugurate a museum in the medieval hilltop city of Cuenca that is devoted to his collection. His first art space opened in 2019, in Toledo, a city that once hosted the Spanish court of the Holy Roman Empire. For Polo, the two museums, collectively known as the Roberto Polo Collection: Center for Modern and Contemporary Art of Castilla-La Mancha, are a chance to establish a legacy and draw a line under his checkered past. [More