Jeff Koons, Gagosian Gallery, and Many Other Blue-Chip Art Operations Received Millions of Dollars in Government Stimulus Money

The US government has released the names of businesses that received more than $150,000 in federal stimulus loans.

Larry Gagosian and Jeff Koons at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in 2008. Photo: Andrew H. Walker/Getty Images.
Larry Gagosian and Jeff Koons at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in 2008. Photo: Andrew H. Walker/Getty Images.

Artists, museums, and galleries across the US have taken advantage of the government’s Paycheck Protection Program—better known as PPP—which provides loans to small businesses, individual artists, and nonprofits as an incentive to keep workers on staff during the lockdown. 

Any operation with fewer than 500 employees is eligible to apply for the loans—which will largely be forgiven by the government—but not all of the program’s recipients have been small operations.

Jeff Koons, whose studio has employed more than 100 assistants at a time, was awarded $1 million to $2 million, according to data released by the Treasury Department. Meow Wolf, the trippy experiential art collective in New Mexico, which laid off more than half of its staff in April, was offered between $5 million and $10 million in funds.

Artists Dan Colen, Daniel Arsham, Sterling Ruby, and Tom Sachs were all awarded at least $150,000.

Meanwhile, galleries such as Pace, Gagosian (which furloughed its part-time staffers in April), and David Zwirner (which laid off nearly 40 employees this month) all took in between $2 million and $5 million. On the lower end, Blum and Poe, Hauser and Wirth, 303 Gallery, Gladstone Gallery, Jack Shainman Gallery, Lisson Gallery, Luhring Augustine, Marlborough Gallery, Matthew Marks, and Kasmin were each given $350,000 to $1 million. 

The Whitney Museum, the Philadelphia Museum of Art, and the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art each received between $5 million to $10 million in government aid. (The Whitney laid off 76 employees earlier this spring; SFMOMA furloughed hundreds of staff members in March, then cut 55 more in June.)

The exterior of Meow Wolf's House of Eternal Return in Santa Fe, New Mexico on its first anniversary. Image courtesy of Wikimedia.

The exterior of Meow Wolf’s House of Eternal Return in Santa Fe on its first anniversary. Image courtesy of Wikimedia.

The Trump administration released the list of businesses that were awarded more than $150,000 in PPP aid yesterday, following numerous calls by Democratic politicians demanding more transparency into the stimulus awarding process. Exact loan figures were not disclosed; instead, businesses were sorted into ranges—$5 million to $10 million on the high end, down to $150,000-$350,000.

The released information represents nearly three-fourths of the total aid money distributed. 

Other notable institutions to be awarded PPP money include the Hammer Museum, the Museum of Contemporary Art, and the Jewish Museum, which each received $2 million to $5 million; the New Museum, the Rubin Museum, and the Studio Museum in Harlem were each awarded aid in the $1 million to $2 million range.

On the auction side, Phillips and Bonhams were awarded between $2 million and $5 million. Artnet, meanwhile, received between $1 million and $2 million.

See the full list of PPP loans above $150,000 here.


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