You think you're an obsessive record collector? Well, Brazil's Zero Freitas has got you beat, by tons. The 62-year-old São Paolo bus magnate has accumulated millions of records in his 25,000-square-foot warehouse and home. He's zealously purchased large collections from former music critics, DJs, and, in one case, the entire massive stock of a defunct Pittsburgh record store, which took eight 53-foot semitrailers to haul away—and then was flown or shipped in who knows how many planes or boats to Brazil. Freitas has hired a dozen college interns to catalog his collection. By the time they finish (Freitas hasn't stopped obtaining records, by any means), they'll likely be of retirement age.
Freitas isn't just hoarding all this music for his own pleasure. He has plans to share some of it.
Freitas has recently begun preparing his warehouse for his own venture, which he has dubbed Emporium Musical. Last year, he got federal authorization to import used records — an activity that hadn’t been explicitly allowed by Brazilian trade officials until now. Once the archive is registered as a nonprofit, Freitas will shift his collection over to the Emporium. Eventually he envisions it as a sort of library, with listening stations set up among the thousands of shelves. If he has duplicate copies of records, patrons will be able to check out copies to take home.
While a great deal of music in the Anglo-American world has been digitized, the majority of releases in South America and other less developed regions only exist on vinyl or cassette. This state of affairs partially drives Freitas's compulsion to save these recordings from oblivion.
Now I don't feel so bad about my own quasi-pathological record-buying habit. (Mike Nipper's going to be so jealous when he sees this post.) Read New York Times reporter Monte Reel's mind-boggling profile, which probes the psychological factors behind Freitas's mania, here.