Skip to main content

Top 200 Collectors

Sonya Yu

Sonya Yu

Los Angeles; San Francisco

Creative agency (Four One Nine)

Contemporary art


“It wasn’t a singular work but rather a deeper understanding of the art world,” Sonya Yu told ARTnews about when she first realized she became a collector. “This knowledge helped me to contextualize the idea and role of a collector, as well as question it. The more I understood about this ecosystem, the more I was able to observe its gaps, systemic fractures, and misaligned intentions. As a result, I identified how I could enact change by collecting with more purpose and more responsibility.”

Born in Beijing and raised in the Bay Area, Yu is the ultimate multihyphenate. She has worn several hats over the course of her career, working as a freelance photographer, investing in real estate, and work on the business development and market research side of the tech industry. Today, Yu is best known for founding Four One Nine, a creative agency that focuses on supporting artists and developing the Bay Area’s art ecosystem with clients that range from e-commerce watch platform Hodinkee to drag queen Juanita More to San Francisco gallerist Micki Meng. Yu is also the founder of MYLES Magazine, which focuses on art, travel, and culture.

As a collector, Yu focuses on a wide range of artistic practices from some of today’s leading contemporary artists, including sculptures by Robert Gober, video works by Mika Rottenberg, and sound works from Dominique Gonzales-Foerster, among others. She has also focused on acquiring “works by artists from marginalized voices and communities like Martin Wong, Oscar Yi Hou, Julien Nguyen, and Felipe Baeza,” she said. Other recent acquisitions include Pierre Huyghe, Frank Moore, Yuji Agematsu, and Rachel Whiteread.

“My collection is a reflection of my values and aesthetics, so there are a few collecting threads that have come about organically over the years that create the foundation, rather than a singular work,” she said. “One of particular interest (and close to my heart) is female painters working within abstraction like Amy Sillman, Jacqueline Humphries, R.H. Quaytman, Tauba Auerbach, Mary Corse, and Etel Adnan.”