Few social entrepreneurs are successful in the arts. Even fewer grow that success in the second generation. Michael Sellman is one of them.
The New York financier is President of Tinwood, a $100 million-plus social enterprise dedicated to ending racial discrimination. Tinwood maintains, preserves and curates its own collection of more than 4000 African American artworks, while funding all operations of the Atlanta-based Souls Grown Deep Foundation, founded by writer and historian William S. Arnett. Arnett and his sons, Paul and Matt, have made the foundation their life’s work; five members of the Arnett and Sellman families work there, and Michael Sellman is Treasurer and Finance Committee Chair. He edited three Tinwood books on modern American art; one served as the catalog for an exhibition so popular that it broke attendance records at the Whitney.
After stints at Morgan Stanley in New York and London, Michael Sellman helped turn Tinwood around through strategic sales, increased efficiencies, and a public relations campaign. The second generation business leader stands out for the civil rights advancement he made in 2014, when the deal he brokered was finally announced. In December 2014, the Met accessioned 57 works of American art by 30 groundbreaking Southern black artists all too often overlooked by critics, scholars and institutions.
Michael Sellman is on the board of two organizations: Volta Red, a 10,000-acre Ghanaian palm oil plantation, which he helped rehabilitate, and The Benny Fund, a non-profit that works to improve mental health and prevent suicide. He is also co-CEO of Calatrava Grace, a global real estate advisory firm.
While the New York art world rewrites the history books, watch as Michael Sellman secures his organization’s legacy and unfolds its international strategy.