Art News Gagosian

Art News Gagosian – It’s hard to imagine the art world without Larry Gagosian. The mega-dealer, which began selling posters on the street in the 1970s, features some of the most important artists of our time (Cy Twombly, Helen Frankenthaler, Richard Prince), but has come to represent the scene and set its tone. A sexy gallery with museum-quality shows, great openings, and great prices.

Although privately owned, his company’s revenue is about $1 billion. As one collector once said, there are two people in the art world who only need a name: Larry and Andy (as in Warhol).

Art News Gagosian

Art News Gagosian

But people in the art world have long wondered how the Gagosian empire would survive without Gagosian himself. Each of his 19 galleries in seven countries bears the imprint of his refined taste in art, free and elegant aesthetic. Gagosian is a strong personality – somewhat vague, sometimes prickly – with clear opinions. A childless bachelor, turning 78 in 2023, raised the issue of succession planning.

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Now it seems Gagosian is building one. Over the past year, he has assembled a board of directors to help him think about the future of his business. In addition to its seven core partners and Gagosian himself, the board has 12 outside members from various fields, all collectors. They include Evan Spiegel, CEO of Snap; artist Jenny Saville; financier J. Tomilson Hill, chairman of the Guggenheim Museum; financier Glen Fuhrman, who founded the Flag Art Foundation; and Delphine Arnaud, executive vice president of Louis Vuitton, who also sits on the executive committee of parent company LVMH, led by her father, Bernard Arnault, one of the world’s greatest collectors.

Art News Gagosian

“I don’t know who’s going to be there for me,” Gagosian said in an interview. “It’s hard to do a legacy business, especially when you don’t have family. But we have a very successful business and we want to see it outside of me. It seemed like a step in that direction. I have no intention of giving up or slowing down. It creates a model for the gallery moving forward and enriches it right now.”

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Recently, debate has intensified about what the post-Gagosian gallery venture will look like. His colleagues in this field — David Zwirner, Hauser & Wirth, Pace, Acquavella, Nahmad — are family businesses, and the younger generation may replace the founders.

Art News Gagosian

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Recently, there have been reports in the art press that Gagosian has been sold or is considering an investment from LVMH or the Arnault family holding company.

Gagosian categorically denied this information. “There is no talk and I have no intention of selling the company,” he said. “I own 100% of it, I have no investors and my business is not for sale. I like to control what I have.” At the same time, he said that no company would responsibly deny such an opportunity. “If someone wants to jump in and make a big investment,” he said, “I think anyone would listen.”

Art News Gagosian

As for how the new board will affect his specific succession plans, Gagosian said that will inform his approach to the future. Exactly what form this future will take is unclear. Gagosian has several senior deputies already helping him run things. None of its executives has emerged as an obvious successor, though Andrew Fabricant, a 67-year-old veteran art dealer hired by Gagosian in 2018, is now in a leadership role. (Gagosian called him “a great strategic thinker”).

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Gagosian asked, “What can you say about our business and the art market more broadly?” Except for the questions, he said he assembled the board as a brain trust without a clear mandate or end game. and How do we move forward as a business? What are the challenges, what are the opportunities?”

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Art News Gagosian

In the early months of the coronavirus lockdown, Gagosian said he was thinking seriously about the long-term future of his business and how to exit — though he said he’s still working hard.

Being comfortable delegating and working as a team was a common skill. “I caught on because I’m a little bit of a lone wolf — I’m a very business-minded guy, independent in my thinking,” Gagosian said. “But in recent years, it’s given me more time to work on things that really interest me. I am very happy to see how well the gallery is doing. It took a lot off my desk and gave me time to work conceptually and spend more time with the artists. He released me. I can’t imagine going back to the way it was before.”

Art News Gagosian

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“It’s about finding opportunities for artists, brainstorming where art is going,” he said. “I don’t know if other galleries have exceeded their figure. The idea is to create something that gives the gallery longevity, that it has the beginnings of a form that can live beyond Larry.”

The compensated trustees are expected to serve three-year terms, at which point they will retire unless Gagosian asks to stay on. The council, which meets twice a year, held its first meeting last May and the second last week.

Art News Gagosian

“It was a way to connect with people from other areas, insiders and people coming from a different point of view, and expand the think tank in the gallery,” Gagosian said. “I found this to be a great group of people that I felt comfortable with and that I had friendships and relationships with. At the last meeting we had to stop it after about three and a half hours – people still wanted to contribute more. From my point of view, it was very informative.”

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At the most recent board meeting, members asked what artists really want in a gallery, “what is an artist looking for?” He discussed. – said Hill. “What are Stanley Whitney, Rick Lowe or Jordan Wolfson looking for – why do they go to Gagosian over other galleries?”

Art News Gagosian

Additional external members of the board – all collectors – screenwriter and director Sofia Coppola and entrepreneur and investor Dasha Zhukova Niarchos.

“When Larry is gone, I have no doubt that the Gagosian Gallery will continue,” Hill said.

Art News Gagosian

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Additionally, it remains difficult to replicate the knowledgeable and experienced “Larry” that Hill described working with in recent years.

“In the ’80s, I would go to his gallery because I was always learning something,” Hill said. “And in the 90s, I saw things that I couldn’t believe. My first exposure to Rubens oil sketches was Larry’s show on Rubens oil sketches.

Art News Gagosian

“I bought my first Francis Bacon from him,” Hill continued, adding that he also bought his first Picasso, a painting of Picasso’s lover, Marie-Thérèse, from Gagosian.

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“I saw him in a portrait retrospective at the Museum of Modern Art,” he added. “It turned out to belong to actor Steve Martin. Steve, who was on good terms with Larry, said, “Larry, if you can find a buyer for this next week, I’ll sell it.” This is Larry.’

Art News Gagosian

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