As London Dealers Struggle, Gérard Faggionato Shutters Gallery to Join David Zwirner

Gérard Faggionato in front of a piece by Alighiero Boetti at TEFAF in Maastricht, the Netherlands (2014). Photo: Paul Laster, courtesy White Hot Magazine.

London art dealer Gérard Faggionato is closing his 22-year-old eponymous Mayfair gallery and joining the sales team at the London outpost of New York mega-gallery David Zwirner, reports the New York Times.

Faggionato’s shuttering, paired with less-than-stellar sales at several recent gallery shows (the Times cites examples at October Gallery, Pilar Ordovas, and Dickinson), demonstrates the difficulties faced by London dealers. Though the city is home to some of the world’s wealthiest people, they aren’t necessarily buying art from dealers, even as New York galleries such as Pace, Marian Goodman, Michael Werner, Skarstedt, and Dominique Lévy have opened locations in the English capital (see Dominique Lévy Opening London Gallery).

That’s despite the fact that, as the Times points out, “more ultra-wealthy people own properties in London than in any other city in the world.”

“The market becoming so international has changed the dynamic, particularly in London,” Ordovas told the Times. “Collectors have so much choice and are so time-deprived. Getting their attention is challenging.”

Comparing London to New York, Zwirner told the Times, “There isn’t the same density of collectors. There’s a competitive spirit among New York collectors, and they show up. In New York, you have four major museums with important groups of trustees, who are all quite active as collectors. There’s a group dynamic.” In London, that spirit seems largely reserved for auctions, although Zwirner may be an exception: the current Luc Tuymans exhibition has sold eight of 10 canvases to buyers in the US, the UK, China, France, Italy, and the Middle East, says the Times.

Formerly head of both the Impressionist and modern department and the department of postwar and contemporary art at Christie’s, Faggionato will join Zwirner in April, focusing his efforts on the sale of new works and the resale market for older ones.

Faggionato’s expertise in the secondary market was of particular interest to Zwirner. “Our clients are looking at all areas of the 20th century. It’s logical to grow the gallery in a way that gives more options for both buying and selling,” he explained.

New Yorkers saw a similar development in 2013, when Christopher D’Amelio joined Zwirner, closing D’Amelio Terras, the gallery he had run with partner Lucien Terras for some 15 years. (Zwirner has been making changes in his top ranks recently—see Art World Report Card: Italy’s Art Donor Tax Break, Gallery Partnerships, and the Met’s New Entrance to read about the partnership model.)

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