We all know that Gagosian Gallery is the Death Star of the art world. They are perceived as the enemy of any art-loving person who doesn’t want to think about dollar signs with their art, well, unless they’re silkscreened by Warhol on canvas. And now The New York Times‘ Randy Kennedy has done us all a great service by discovering that … well, I’ll let him tell you (emphasis mine):
But by 2009, according to the e-mails, the gallery had offered the painting for considerably less to a collector, Thompson Dean, a managing partner of a private equity firm, telling Mr. Dean that he had an opportunity to get an incredible bargain. “Seller now in terrible straits and needs cash,” said a July e-mail to Mr. Dean from a Gagosian staff member. “Are you interested in making a cruel and offensive offer? Come on, want to try?”
Mr. Dean apparently did and agreed to buy the painting for $2 million. Mr. Gagosian took a $1 million commission — an unusually high percentage for a secondary-market sale.
Are we surprised that a commercial gallery is trying to make the most profit it possibly can? Not really. Is it icky? Yes, in so many ways. Did the collector get a deal? Probably. Am I hoping this court case draws out as long as possible so that more details emerge? Yes.
You know what book I’d buy? A collection of the Gagosian Gallery’s best emails.