Juan Abello: pharmacist, financier and protector of Spanish masters
Continuing the theme of renowned financiers and bankers from the past and present who have influenced and inspired me. In this piece, I talk about an elite Spanish financier who through his family office has diversified across the global into various companies. It is quite rare for me to include an individual that hasn’t yet completed their life achievements as their story is often only half written, but Juan Abello’s contribution to the world of business and art is so prolific, it has to be placed amongst the greatest of the past.
Born in Madrid in 1941, Juan moved swiftly into the family business with much passion and enthusiasm. This can be evidenced in his studies in achieving is bachelor’s degree and doctorate in Pharmacy. Through his studies Juan evidenced his commitment to the sector and detailed the value of revisiting and advancing your thinking and thought process through education.
Taking over from Juan Abello Pascual, his father, he sat at the helm of Antibiotics S.A and was appointed managing director in 1966. After successful exits from various pharmaceutical ventures and Banesto (modern day Santander), Juan founded his family office, Torreal, to diversify and expand into other sectors. These include allocation to both public and private enterprise with a focus on business with established cash flows. Although agnostic in sector, the group has historically stayed away from venture capital, a field which interests me greatly.
What is joyful about discussing ‘current’ business leaders, is that much of their portfolio is known to us in its existing life form. We can watch the trials and tribulations of the companies as their lifespan expands and we therefore ultimately get a true picture of all the hard work that goes into building a legacy. Ultimately the success of the business leads to the success of more socially focused ventures, be that becoming a protector of the arts as he has.
His family office is inspirational and Torreal has for sure had a successful stretch of investments with some of its previous investments including Pepe, Vodafone, Swissport, Hackett, and Santander. Today the portfolio maintains its sector depth from luxury cars, areo-engineering, manufacturing, water treatment, rentals, cosmetics, insurance, commodities, health and education.
A passion for the Arts
Today, Abello is considered one of the world’s greatest art collectors and has amassed more than 600 pieces over the last forty years or so. Many regarding him as having the finest Spanish arts collection as well as many other commanding Europeans. The ‘Abello Collection’ has brought together masters including Degas, Leger, Matisse, Goya but has aimed to have more focus on Spanish artist such as Jusepe de Ribera and Salvador Dali.
Both Juan and his wife Anna, have dedicated themselves to the task of re-patriating Spanish artists back to the region after they have been subject to Europe’s rich history of wars and invasions, which resulted in loosing many rare and valuable items to foreign lands.
They are also prominent supporters of various museums and galleries around the world, often lending pieces from the collection so they can be enjoyed by audiences globally.
What is fascinating about the Abello collection, is that it combines artists across a span of almost 500 years, from the 15th centaury to today. There it creates a real historical backdrop for the development of the art sector and a journey through history itself, often encompassing the general feelings of that age. You have Kandinsky’s and Rothko’s sitting alongside Rivera’s and Matisse and Picasso. This approach has been excellently curated by design in an effort to detail that journey.
What is so inspirational about Juan, is that he has dedicated much effort with a desire to underline the cultural heritage of Spain in an effort to bring joy and pride to the region and therefore should be viewed truly as a protector of Spanish culture and history.