The billionaire financier Leon Black has recently made as many headlines for his art patronage as for his business deals. On Tuesday, he combined the two, announcing an acquisition of Phaidon Press, a leading publisher of fine art books.
Mr. Black, the chief executive of the private equity giant Apollo Global Management, is paying an undisclosed amount for the London-based Phaidon. He acquired the publisher from Richard Schlagman, a British businessman. It is a personal investment for Mr. Black and has nothing to do with Apollo. (That said, Phaidon is named after a Greek philosopher, and Apollo, the Greek god.)
Phaidon is one of several high-end art-book publishers, a group that includes Assouline and Taschen. While best known for its art titles, the company publishes big, beautiful books on everything from children’s books to cookbooks. Titles range from a collector’s edition of Nan Goldin photographs ($4,000) to Pushpesh Pant’s “India: Cookbook “($49.95).
In a statement, Mr. Black said that he and his family “look forward to supporting the future growth of the company, including through the ongoing development of its publishing program, further geographic expansion, and the launch of digital products.”
Greenhill & Company advised Phaidon on the sale. Mr. Black’s purchase of Phaidon was earlier reported by The Wall Street Journal.
Mr. Black is one of the country’s foremost art collectors. Though he nor any of his representatives will confirm it, Mr. Black is said to have paid nearly $120 million for Edvard Munch’s 1995 version of “The Scream” earlier this year. Sold in May by Sotheby’s, “The Scream” became the most expensive artwork ever sold at auction. Later this month the pastel will go on view at the Museum of Modern Art, on whose board Mr. Black sits.
In May, Mr. Black and his wife announced a $48 million contribution to a new visual arts center at Dartmouth College, Mr. Black’s alma mater. As part of the gift, Mr. Black and his family have a sculpture commissioned by the abstract artist Ellsworth Kelly. The piece will adorn a wall facing the center.
As Mr. Black buys assets, his company, Apollo, is looking to unload them. Last week, it sold shares of Berry Plastics Group, a company it acquired in 2006, in an initial public offering that is trading below its offering price. There are several other Apollo-owned companies that are trying to go public, including the real estate company Realogy Holdings, which is expected to hit the market on Wednesday.
Mr. Black is not the only Apollo billionaire making purchases out of his own pocket. Josh Harris, a co-founder of Apollo, led a group that last October paid $280 million for the Philadelphia 76ers professional basketball team.