Richard Brown Baker was born in Providence, R.I. on November 5, 1912 to Harvey Almy Baker and Marion North Brown. His grandfather was Henry Martin Brown, President of the Industrial Trust Co. of Rhode Island (later Fleet National Bank). He became a prodigious collector owning over 1,600 works of art before he died. He focused on the artists that were new and on the edge deciding in the 1950s to focus on young and unestablished artists. Richard Baker was one of the first to buy works by artists such as Jackson Pollock and Roy Lichtenstein.