Anyone who grew up in any time after the 60s remembers the joy of placing a vinyl record on a turntable, kicking back, and listening to an album for the first time, mesmerized by studying the album cover artwork, liner notes, and lyrics. With a library of a few dozen record albums, you could close your eyes and recall all the details of each of the album jackets.
But if you are Zero Freitas, a 60-year-old Brazilian real estate tycoon, that would be impossible. That’s because Freitas is the owner of the world’s largest vinyl record collection: over 6 million and counting. (Ironically, Freitas is breaking records for owning the most records!) It is estimated that it would take someone more than 300 years to listen to every single and LP.
The collection is so vast, it occupies several large warehouses in the suburbs of Sao Paulo. He keeps only 100,000 of his favorite albums at home. Each month massive crates containing thousands of singles and albums arrive at the warehouses. The crates are immediately covered in plastic sheeting to protect against moisture damage. Some crates will stay unopened for years. A staff of 15 interns open up each crate to catalog the albums. Each day they clean, dust, and photograph each record and then enter the album’s key information into their expansive vinyl record database. At a rate of 400 to 500 a day, it would take the staff more than 40 years to complete the inventory — assuming that Freitas does not keep adding millions of albums.
Like most collections it began innocently enough with one single purchase. Back in January 1965, Freitas had saved enough pocket money to purchase Canta Para a Juventude by Roberto Carlos, one of Brazil’s most popular recording artists. In an interview with the New York Times, Freitas explains that his obsession is tied to the fond childhood memory of his father buying him a hi-fi stereo when he was 5 and the 200 albums the seller threw in as part of the deal. Soon after, Freitas began buying records by the popular artists of the time: Frank Sinatra, Toney Bennett, Ray Charles, the Beatles, and the Rolling Stones. By the time he graduated high school his collection had grown to 3,000. Ten years later, the collection had grown to 30,000. Today the collection grows in leaps and bounds, since Freitas simply acquires complete collections from record stores that go out of business and fellow record collectors.
Freitas has created a nonprofit, the Emporium Musical, dedicated to preserving all the music he has collected. The library will have listening stations scattered throughout the shelves. The goal of the organization is digitize as most of the music as possible to preserve it for future generations.
For further reading: http://www.theguardian.com/music/2015/mar/27/record-collector-zero-freitas-worlds-largest-vinyl-hoard