By Alicia Powell
NEW YORK (Reuters) - After two decades of hard work, New York artist Guy Stanley Philoche planned to celebrate the success of his two-day sold-out show at Cavalier Gallery a year ago by buying a $15,000 watch.
But an inner voice spoke as the pandemic hit - telling him that he should step up and help other emerging artists.
"I made a promise to myself that every time I sell a painting, I'll buy a painting," said Haitian-born Philoche, 44, who grew up in Connecticut and was drawing and painting before he could walk.
Philoche posted a video of himself on Instagram offering to buy as much artwork as possible to help fellow artists hurt by the shutdowns.
"I hit 'send' and that's when I opened Pandora's Box," he said.
Within a year Philoche has spent $70,000 on more than 200 pieces of art from over 150 artists around the world.
"I'm still going through it, buying it and I love it," he said. "I also realize that now that I have a seat at the table I have to open doors for people, so I'm making it my mission now, you know, to give people a shot."
Philoche's collection, which includes pieces by his former professors and his tattoo artist, has caught the attention of museums around the world which want to host it. But first, he wants a New York exhibition for the works, which are displayed throughout his small studio apartment and kept in a storage unit.
"It's going to be really cool and really fun and amazing to call some of these artists that I purchased their work, whose work has never been sold before," he said.
"I was the first person to buy something from them and be like, hey, by the way, you know the painting I just bought, it's actually going to be hanging in the MoMa."
(Reporting by Alicia Powell; Editing by Richard Chang and Rosalba O'Brien)