Brazilian transportation mogul Zero Freitas, 62, is buying up all of the world’s vinyl records.
Ever since he bought his first record as a child in 1964–Roberto Carlos Sings to the Children–he has been unable to stop.
“I’ve gone to therapy for 40 years to try to explain this to myself,” he told The New York Times in an interview.
When he graduated high school, Freitas owned approximately 3,000 records. By the time he turned 30, that number had ballooned up to 30,000. Now, his current total is in the millions.
Freitas has hired a dozen college interns to help organize a 25,000-square-foot warehouse in São Paulo full of vinyl records. The interns catalogue 500 records a day, but with 40-foot-long shipping containers holding 100,000 records each arriving monthly, it’s almost impossible for the interns to gain ground. Allan Bastos, who served as Freitas’ New York buyer for several years, believes that the cataloguing effort “will take years and years. Probably 20 years, I guess.” He means 20 years if Freitas’ stopped buying records today.
The records come from all parts of the world–he has over 100,000 Cuban albums alone–and cover every kind of music imaginable. While the majority of British and American records in Freitas’ collection have been digitally preserved, up to 80 percent of recorded music from countries like Brazil, Cuba, and Nigeria have never been transferred. In many cases, the vinyl records are the only evidence that these songs and albums ever existed.
“It’s very important to save this,” Freitas said, “very important.”
In the future, Freitas plans to transform the warehouse into an “Emporium Musical,” and make it available to the public. The idea is to turn it into a kind of library, with listening stations set up throughout the thousands of shelves.