Son a modest employee of the Swiss railway company, Ernst Beyeler was one of the most important art dealers and collectors of the second half of the 20th century, aside from directing the foundation that bears his name and being the cofounder of the Basel Art Fair. His career in the art world began in the 1940s, in the antique bookshop of Oskar Schloss in Basel. After the death of Schloss in 1940, Beyeler took charge of the shop, transforming it into one of the most prestigious art galleries in Europe, with works by artists like Monet, Matisse, Klee, Giacometti and Picasso. His friendship with the latter, forged throughout the 1950s, was one of the reasons for his first commercial successes, rounded off with the purchase in 1960 of 340 works from the collection of the American David Thompson. In 1982, Beyeler and his wife Hildy created a foundation for their vast private collection, shown to the public for the first time in 1989, in Madrid’s Reina Sofía Museum. The Fondation Beyeler, located in Riehen, near Basel, and designed by Renzo Piano, would open in 1997, and since then it houses the permanent collection.