Dakis Joannou (Greek: Δάκης Ιωάννου; born December 30, 1939) is a Greek Cypriot industrialist and art collector based in Athens. Joannou entered into the construction and civil engineering business in the late 1960s and over the last four decades has diversified his holdings through numerous areas of international industrial commerce. His extensive collection of contemporary art and furniture is considered one of the most important in the world.
Life and career
Dakis Joannou was born in Nicosia, Cyprus. He graduated from Athens College in 1958 and continued his education in the United States, receiving his Bachelor’s degree in civil engineering from Cornell University in 1962 and his Master’s degree from Columbia University in 1964. In 1967 he completed his Doctorate in Architecture at Sapienza University of Rome, Italy. Joannou’s core business is construction, where he is chairman of both privately held J&P (Overseas) and ASE, listed as J&P-AVAX. In 1941, Joannou’s father, Stelios Joannou, and his partner, George Paraskevaides, established the J&P Group in Cyprus. It has since expanded to a global enterprise with the company's primary areas of business located in the Middle East, North Africa, and Southeastern Europe.
Joannou is active in Greece’s hospitality sector, with holdings in the Inter-Continental Hotel in Athens and through Yes! Hotels, a chain of boutique hotels whose flagships are the Karim Rashid designed Semiramis Hotel and the Campana Brothers designed NEW Hotel in Athens. Joannou is also involved in several other industries including bottling, shipping, aviation, and real estate.
He is considered to be one of the leading collectors of European and American contemporary art in the world, and is famous for acquisitions such as the Jeff Koons-designed yacht Guilty. Joannou lives in Athens, Greece with his wife Lietta; they have two daughters, two sons, and eleven grandchildren.
Joannou is a major collector of European and American contemporary art and is the founder of the DESTE Foundation for Contemporary Art. He is currently serving on the councils of several museums worldwide and has continuously been on ArtReview's Power 100 List since its inception—in 2004 he was ranked its number one collector in the world. Along with his extensive fine art collection, Joannou’s interest in furniture from the Italian radical design period of the late 60s and 70s has grown to be what is known as the 1968 Furniture Collection and is the subject of a forthcoming book. In 2007, Joannou also established the Destefashioncollection. Each year, the Foundation commissions an artist familiar with the fashion industry to reinterpret five inspiring designs from that year’s international fashion collections. The first exhibition of the Destefashioncollection, combining the first five capsule collections (2007–2012) was presented in the iconic storefront windows of Barney’s, New York in June 2012.
The Dakis Joannou Collection is composed of works by a variety of internationally recognized and emerging artists, including:
Paweł Althamer, Tauba Auerbach, Janine Antoni, Matthew Barney, Ashley Bickerton, Maurizio Cattelan, Paul Chan, Roberto Cuoghi, Marcel Duchamp, Haris Epaminonda, Urs Fischer, Robert Gober, Peter Halley, Jeff Koons, Ross Minoru Laing, Elad Lassry, Mike Kelley, Joseph Kosuth, Mark Manders, Paul McCarthy, Tim Noble & Sue Webster, Chris Ofili, Gabriel Orozco, Charles Ray, Josh Smith, Kiki Smith, Christiana Soulou, Haim Steinbach, Kara Walker, Andy Warhol, Andro Wekua, Christopher Wool, and Jakub Julian Ziolkowski.
Dakis Joannou owns the yacht Guilty where the exterior design was done by contemporary artist Jeff Koons.
Works from the extensive collection have appeared in almost every major museum and art institution in the world, including the exhibitions Skin Fruit at the New Museum of Contemporary Art, New York in 2010; Dream and Trauma at Kunsthalle Wien, Viennain 2007; and Translation at the Palais de Tokyo, Paris in 2005. Joannou is a member of the Board of Trustees at the New Museum, a member of the Committee on Painting and Sculpture and of the Library Council at the Museum of Modern Art, and a member of the International Directors’ Council at the Solomon R. Guggenheim Foundation, all in New York. He is a member of the Tate International Council and a member of the Council of the Serpentine Gallery in London.
The DESTE Foundation for Contemporary Art, established in 1983, is a non-profit institution based in Athens, Greece. The Foundation headquarters is located in Nea Ionia, a northern suburb of Athens. Through an exhibition program that promotes emerging as well as established artists, the Foundation aims to broaden the audience for contemporary art, enhance opportunities for young artists, and explore the connections between contemporary art and culture. A second location, the DESTE Project Space Slaughterhouse is located on the Greek island of Hydra. To date, the DESTE Foundation has collaborated with a number of internationally acclaimed curators and leading artists to showcase current important artistic innovations and to organize curatorial projects and special events that reflect the global trends in contemporary art.
Charitable Contributions and Recognition
Joannou is actively involved in many not-for-profit organizations with a wide range of social activities. He is the Chairman of the Board of Directors of the Christos Stelios Ioannou Foundation, a center for the mentally handicapped in Cyprus. He is also a supporter of the University of Cyprus, donating the “Stelios Ioannou” Learning Resource Center, designed by internationally renowned architect Jean Nouvel and due for completion in 2015. In 2007, Joannou was appointment to the Chancellor’s Court of Benefactors of the University of Oxford after the establishment of the Stelios Ioannou School for Research in Classical and Byzantine Studies.