Larry Gagosian is America's most powerful art dealer. He is the man behind the world-renowned Gagosian Gallery, an empire of exhibition spaces in the art capitals of the world.
Born in 1945, in Los Angeles to Armenian parents, he went from selling tacky cat posters to becoming one of the most influential persons in the art world. Before opening his first Gallery in New York he ran a Poster Shop in Los Angeles that functioned as his gateway into the art world.
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In the early 1980s, he represented established museum artists such as Richard Serra and Eric Fischl. In 1985, he puts on spectacular shows of early Pop Art in his Chelsea exhibition space in Manhattan.
After opening his second gallery on Madison Avenue in 1989, Gagosian is unstoppable. Among his artists are modernist icons like Andy Warhol and Cy Twombly.
Larry Gagosian has been instrumental in the growth and promotion of contemporary art. Larry Gagosian has been instrumental in the growth and promotion of contemporary art. With taste and daring, he has developed a gigantic art industry.
Gagosian has stimulated demand for modern art among the rich and super-rich, like no other dealer before.
He conquered the art world due to his sheer inexhaustible energy and a sharp eye for the Zeitgeist.
The undisputed art magnate trades the most famous artists, including names like Jeff Koons and Pablo Picasso, whose estate he manages. The artists he deals with benefit a great deal from the phenomenon known as the Gagosian effect, which boosts their art's value a hundredfold.
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Many of his clients are willing to overpay just to be part of his inner circle, and he relies on this power to charm buyers into loyalty. Annual revenues from his worldwide galleries total about a billion dollars.
Gagosian's great talent is making wealthy collectors his social acquaintance. To be invited to Gagosian's soirees means an official affirmation for collectors. Today the Gagosian brand is as important as the artists’. No other mega-gallery has accomplished that so far.
He uses carrots and sticks to have prominent, wealthy collectors compete for rare and high-caliber artworks.
In addition to his core business of dealing with major artists, Gagosian serves a select group of clients who have entrusted him with their art purchases, including billionaires Eli Broad, co-founder of KB Home and SunAmerica, and S. I. Newhouse, co-owner of Conde Nast Publications, Dana Zhukova, real estate mogul Aby Rosen, and art patron Eli Broad.
Gagosian exhibits worldwide on 14,200 square meters of exhibition space. Again and again, he has explored the opportunities of emerging art markets with pop-up galleries in Moscow, Rio de Janeiro, or Abu Dhabi, filled with top-class works by Bluechip artists.
Anyone who collects, trades, or curates wants to be close to the most powerful dealer, market maker, artist maker, and dealmaker, Larry Gagosian.
Like no other, he understands the possibilities of controlling the art market with live auctions and their tremendous media presence. He uses carrots and sticks to have prominent, wealthy collectors compete for rare and high-caliber artworks.
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Gagosian's business is no longer limited to his galleries. The ageless Armenian is a giant in the secondary market as well. Frequently, he represents both the buyer and the seller of a work.
In October 2020 Gagosian fired his digital strategist Sam Orlofsky, who had worked at the Gallery since 2001 after allegations of misconduct against women had been made public. Orlofsky was suspended without pay while Gagosian brought in a third-party legal counsel to investigate the alleged misconduct.
Gagosian writes in a letter to his team: “I want to first emphasize emphatically that the behavior alleged is unacceptable and repugnant. The Gallery expects all employees to adhere to our values, which include mutual respect, dignity, collaboration, and honesty.
The Gallery is committed to fostering a workplace where employees are safe, are empowered to do their best work, and can express concerns freely.”
Gagosian adds that anyone else should come forward with relevant information, "which will be kept confidential to the extent the law allows," and thanks those who have already done so for their "bravery and honesty."
Gagosian's letter closes: "The Gallery's success comes from the extraordinary efforts of our employees and we will pursue this investigation vigorously to ensure that our team comes out of this stronger than before."
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