AS a millionaire still in his twenties, Philip Baldwin has much to live for.

Having enjoyed a successful career as a corporate barrister, the Oxford University graduate has the wealth to pursue his passion for art.

But at 29, he is already fully focused on what will happen to the valuable works of art that he has amassed following his death.

Four years ago Mr Baldwin was left devastated after being told he was HIV positive. Soon afterwards he would discover that he was co-infected with Hepatitis C.

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Arrangements are already in place to bequeath valuable paintings from his collection to Oxford’s Ashmolean Museum, with other works of art to be given to the National Portrait Gallery and the Fitzwilliam Museum in Cambridge.

Mr Baldwin, who is now based in London, said: “I feel Oxford has given me so much in terms of laying the foundations for my future career, it is just a privilege to give something back. From a young age, I’ve always been passionate about art, developing a particular interest in 18th century English portraiture as a teenager.”

He recalled desperate times following the diagnosis when he would find himself curled up in a foetal position, crying.

But today Mr Baldwin talks of “the empowering process of acceptance,” which he views as “a second coming out”, in its way as important to his identity as coming out as gay had been a decade earlier.

Rather than being viewed as evidence of any preoccupation with death, he is anxious that his bequest to the Ashmolean should be viewed as an expression of thanks to his old university city, which has inspired him in good times and bad.

Mr Baldwin said: “I’m only 29, and am sure that I have many happy years of collecting ahead of me, but I’m in the process of drawing up a will for the purpose of bequeathing works.”

He studied history at Oriel College from 2003 to 2006, later taking an M.Phil in History of Art and Architecture, specialising in Renaissance battle paintings, at Peterhouse College, Cambridge.

For his 21st birthday, he had asked his father, a self-made millionaire, to buy a beautiful painting. The painting he selected for himself from Sotheby’s was a portrait of the 2nd Earl of Albermarle by Francis Cotes.

It is one of the art works destined for the Ashmolean.

Mr Baldwin added: “I regularly visit Oxford. I feel the university is such a great institution. It continues to inspire me and I have continued to enjoy support from friends and my old tutors.”

Colin Harrison, senior curator of European Art at the Ashmolean, said: “It is very exciting that such a young collector should have the final destination of his collection in mind and we are to be one of the privileged recipients. He is only 29, with many years of collecting ahead of him.

“We are greatly heartened that he wishes to help fill a gap at the Ashmolean, the neglected area of 18th century portraiture.”


OXFORDSHIRE Sexual Health service is offering students free instant HIV tests this week as part of the third national HIV testing week.

Oxfordshire County Council’s public health team and staff from the Terence Higgins Trust will also give advice to Oxford Brookes University students.

Residents can access confidential HIV tests at any of the county’s sexual health clinics held in Oxford, Abingdon, Banbury, Bicester, Didcot, Kidlington, Wantage and Witney.

It is estimated about one in five people with HIV remain undiagnosed and are more likely to pass the virus on unwittingly. 

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