Luxury's 25 Most Innovative Brands: Gagosian Gallery

  • Installation view,
    The Gagosian Gallery in Hong Kong, one of the firm’s 12 locations worldwide, recently exhibited works by Jean-Michel Basquiat. Installation view,
<< Back to Robb Report, August 2013

Larry Gagosian has redefined how modern and contemporary art is sold. Gagosian, 68, started out selling posters in Los Angeles in the 1970s; he upgraded to prints, opened a fine-art gallery in Los Angeles in 1980, and then opened another gallery in Chelsea, N.Y., in 1985. He expanded to London in 2004, which turned out to be the beginning of an international growth spurt that resulted in Gagosian’s becoming the first dealer to globalize his business. He now has 12 galleries worldwide, as well as pop-up exhibitions from Moscow to Rio de Janeiro. He has used his business savvy to identify emerging collector communities and bring the art world to them, putting pins on the map as he follows the money around the globe.

But his biggest impact on the art world has involved the secondary market for contemporary art. Before Gagosian, collectors purchased contemporary art directly from an artist’s dealer, and they generally sold an artist’s works only to his or her dealer. The artist-dealer relationship was sacrosanct. Gagosian realized that the market’s appetite exceeded this system, and so he began buying and then selling works of artists whom he did not represent. Soon this practice was no longer taboo.

The Gagosian-led boom in contemporary-art trading resulted in a tremendous rise in prices, including at auction, but it also destabilized artist-dealer pacts. Gagosian has not escaped the blowback. Some of his leading artists, including Mark di Suvero, defected to other galleries. Nevertheless, Gagosian is thriving. He manages top-tier artists and estates, including Takashi Murakami, Richard Serra, and Jean-Michel Basquiat. In 2011, the Wall Street Journal estimated annual sales of nearly $1 billion. www.gagosian.com

He played the guitar when composing such classics as I Want to Hold Your Hand and Please Please Me…
Photo by Eric Stoner
The artist’s works will be on display at the Hirschl & Adler gallery in New York City this...
Auction items will include early comics, collectibles, and Simon’s The Simpsons pinball machine…
Ferrari’s track-only hybrid supercar is now available in 1:8 scale…
Photo by Estate of Pablo Picasso Artists Rights Society, New York
Picasso’s Les Femmes d’Alger selling for $179.4 million in May is one of many recent examples…
Photo by Randall Cordero
How an Internet entrepreneur assembled a world-beating collection of arcade games…
Photo by Cordero Studios/www.corderostudios.com
A Southern California homeowner has an incredible 1,200-square-foot shrine to America’s pastime…
Photo by Iwan Baan
This September, a highly anticipated contemporary art museum—the Broad—will open in downtown Los...
How much does baseball outpace other sports memorabilia? A look at the record-setting prices for...
Photo by Tom Forsyth and Ron Jarrell
With more than 275 million game sets sold in the past century, Monopoly is the most popular board...