What Happened Inside UTA Chairman Jim Berkus’s Strategic Oscars Party?

UTA Fine Arts division head Joshua Roth.

Has the Hollywoodization of the art world already begun? If the Oscars pre-party at United Talent Agency chairman Jim Berkus’ swanky Beverly Hills pad is any indication, then it appears that it has. Just two weeks after the announcement that the top tier agency will launch a division to represent visual artists (see Hollywood Agency Announces Plans to Represent Visual Artists — Guess Who?), Berkus has artists Jordan Wolfson (see Jordan Wolfson’s Terrifying Animatronic Dancer at David Zwirner) and Sam Falls, gallerist Michele Maccarone, and MOCA director Philippe Vergne rubbing elbows with stars like Kristen Wiig, Gwen Stefani, Al Pacino, Gwyneth Paltrow, Ewan McGregor, and Wes Anderson.

Page Six reports the star-studded affair was also attended by Joshua Roth, the head of UTA Fine Arts. Roth, an art attorney, also represented the buyer in the infamous $6.5 million sale of a photograph by the relatively unknown landscape photographer Peter Lik (see $6.5 Million Landscape Is World’s Most Expensive Photo).

Is it possible Berkus and Roth are toying with the idea of taking on Wolfson and Falls as the first additions to their roster? At the time of the division’s announcement, Roth told the Wall Street Journal that he will spend the next year trying to acquire “the best names in the industry,” and in terms of hip, buzzy artists, they certainly fit the bill.

Regardless, including a prominent gallerist like Maccarone in the festivities is certainly a smart move, as they’ll need the hard-won support of art dealers to succeed in representing contemporary artists. As Marc Glimcher noted, “If you’re going to be an artist’s agent, you need to know more about their work, their prices and their collectors than their own dealer does—and no dealer will be induced to share that kind of information.” Unless, of course, you somehow manage to get on their good side during a glamorous Oscars party.


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