Four mighty art dealers join forces to push the traditional model

In one of the strongest signs yet that the art market will not look the same after the pandemic – and in an apparent attempt to counter the growing dominance of mega galleries – four major dealers have made the unconventional decision to consolidate under one roof. .

Dominic Levy, Brett Gorvyhandjob Amalia Dayan And Jean Greenberg Rohtin In January it would become the LGDR, a consortium that would represent artists, organize exhibitions, advise collectors and broker auction sales.

In joining forces, betting around that they will be more effective together than separately at a time when the gallery sector has seen 20 percent drop in sales (estimated to be up to $29.3 billion), and many small and medium-sized galleries are closing due to the high cost of operations.

Partners, which are dissolving their existing businesses and merging into a single entity, aims to introduce a new model of one-stop shopping that offers artists and collectors the benefit of having four experienced dealers with different areas of expertise. Will give The union could eat into the livelihoods of rival art consultants, auction houses and art fairs.

Further disrupting the traditional art market model, the LGDR plans not to participate in any expensive American art fairs – such as Art Basel Miami or Frieze New York – only attending those in Asia, where fairs attract young collectors. remains an important gateway to a wide range.

“We are looking at ourselves in the mirror and trying to understand who we are and what is the best way to address our customers,” said 57-year-old Gorvy during a joint video interview with his colleagues. ” “What is the business model that is fair? We don’t have to do everything, but we can do anything.”

Given the prominence and high profile of the four players, the news is bound to make waves, raising questions about what signals such an unusual merger for a rapidly changing art world: a nod to the already struggling galleries. An even more difficult environment? Less brick-and-mortar spaces as dealers move closer together? Less competition and more collaboration?

“During the pandemic, the four of us were discussing the art world and what had stopped Covid and what had accelerated Covid,” said levy, 54. “We felt that we wanted to share and collaborate.”

The partners may want to compete for business with the giants, Gagosian, Zwirner, Pace and Hauser & Wirth, in what is increasingly looking like a corporate monopoly – expanding their buildings, adding venues and hiring hot artists. to attract.

For example, Rohtin lost the artist Lorna Simpson to Hauser and Wirth, whatever recently Took Simone Leigh from David Kordansky And Amy Sherald from Monique Meloche.

In other recent examples of consolidation, Gavin Brown joins Gladstone and Zach Feuer Merged His gallery with Joel Messler.

What will the LGDR be based on? Impressive Upper East Side Rohtin’s gallery, Salon 94, opened in March. The Neo-Renaissance townhouse on East 89th Street, a former home of the National Academy of Design, was recently restored and renovated by architect Rafael Violy.

levy And Gorvy will leave his current Madison Avenue gallery, Levi Gorvie. Dayan, 49, recently left his longtime gallery, Luxembourg & Dayan, which has closed its New York location and continues as Luxembourg + Co., stages special projects throughout the city (its London gallery remains open).

Rohtin, 54, was already seeking public approval to add 8,500 square feet to his new gallery for offices, a library and private viewing rooms, which would allow the 1915 building to accommodate the new team.

The four have been friends for over 20 years and work together informally. Dayan and Rohtin started a side art advisory business together last year which will now become part of LGDR.

“The idea of ​​collaboration felt very relevant,” Dayan said. “We were all talking to each other in different places.”

In February, the three women found themselves vacationing in Aspen, Colo., and when they went out, they started talking about accumulating their talents and resources. He later called on Gorvy, the former president of Christie’s, who had left. In 2016 to join Levi’s. After this a series of conversations ensued.

Dayan came up with a Venn diagram showing how his various practices overlap and can complement each other.

While the company will encourage cross-pollination, each partner will have an area of ​​focus that plays to the main strengths – Rohtin has contemporary art; Levi’s is Europe; And Gorvy is Asia. Dayan would take over the Middle East and take on a management role (other peers joke about her military leadership skills: her grandfather was Moshe Dayan, the famous Israeli general and politician).

The partnership aims to be more nimble than most large dealers – moving away from exclusive representation of artists; Presenting exhibitions by various artists with the casual pace of a pop-up gallery; To handle both the initial sale of the art and the work that is being resold; and to show contemporary and historical works together.

“You will see a wonderful Giacometti facing a wonderful Huma BhabhaRohtin said. “That’s likely what it allows.”

The consortium will represent both living artists and estates as well as consular collectors when buying and selling at auction.

“We are a hybrid,” Levy said. “We are not a gallery, we are not a consultant.”

Although their merger would achieve economies of scale, the partners said that finances were not the driving force, that they were driven by a shared belief in exhibitions, research and curatorship.

While galleries traditionally split sales proceeds with artists, Levy said, “every deal is different,” adding that the arena is no longer “in a 50-50 scenario.”

Just as auction houses are eating into the galleries sector with private sales of artworks to collectors, galleries are now seeking to get a piece of the auction action. Last year, Gorvy and Levy came together as a partner Rebecca Weiss, former President of Christie’s Asia.

Gorvi said LGDR would be able to advise auction houses on setting prices, informed by its knowledge of private sales.

At a time when the art world is waking up to the importance of equality and inclusion, there will undoubtedly be those who question the timeliness of the firm, led by four white, middle-aged members of the art establishment. But the partners said they remain firmly committed to diversity in their employees and their cast.

What Rohtin brings to the table is a long-standing emphasis on female artists and artists of color (for example, her roster includes, Derrick Adams, Magdalene Ann Odundo And yukultji nepanti)

“I’m in the business of looking at margins,” Rohtin said. “It’s my passion and my program.”

The partners said that they believe they are four strong personalities with big egos, that some conflicts are inevitable. But both said that they would try to listen to each other and work out their differences. “The Four Musketeers are strong by definition,” Levy said. “This decision comes from a place of strength – the desire to try something new.”

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