Jeff Koons, the World’s Most Expensive Living Artist, Has Cut Loose From Gagosian and Zwirner to Work Exclusively With Pace

The artist informed his former galleries of his decision through an email on Friday.

Photo by Stephane de Sakutin/AFP/Getty Images.
Jeff Koons in Paris in 2018. Photo by Stephane de Sakutin/AFP/Getty Images.

Megawatt art-market star Jeff Koons is ditching powerhouse galleries Gagosian and David Zwirner to be represented exclusively by Pace Gallery worldwide in what amounts to a major shift in the art industry’s power rankings.

“Sometimes professionally in life, we can find ourselves at a crossroads,” Koons, the world’s most expensive living artist, said in a statement announcing the change.

“Going through the last year or so and having the opportunity to reflect on what I would like to achieve with my life’s work in order to bring it to its fullest potential, I have decided that a change in the environment in which my work is viewed and supported would be a positive thing at this time.”

The artist said his “exciting” move to Pace would bring about “tremendous opportunities” for the production of his work. The gallery has a long history of working with artists to execute costly monumental sculptures.

“Jeff changed the way we see the world around us and the way we understand our culture and ourselves,” the gallery’s chief executive and president, Marc Glimcher, said in a statement. “He perceived a cultural shift decades before any of us knew it was underway by propelling through the barrier of elitism that was ringfencing the art world.”

Koons’s first exhibition with the gallery will be a single-work show at the gallery’s Palo Alto space in 2022, though the gallery is keeping quiet at this point on what work will be shown.

A bigger exhibition at the gallery’s flagship space in New York, in which Koons will unveil a new body of work that the gallery said he’s been working on for years, will follow in 2023.

The artist informed his former galleries of his decision through an email on Friday.

“Working with Jeff has been an immense privilege,” David Zwirner told Artnet News. “We wish all involved in his next chapter the best of luck.”

Gagosian did not respond to a request for comment by press time, but the gallery’s owner told the New York Times that the move “seems like a good fit.”

Koons is best known for his monumental inflatable works made of stainless steel that depict cheaply manufactured toys. His Rabbit (1986) earned him the title of the most expensive living artist when it sold for $91.1 million at Christie’s in 2019.

But Koons’s market has been on the downslide in recent years. In 2017, he had to downsize studio staff, reportedly due to lackluster sales of his “Gazing Ball” paintings, which he showed at Gagosian.

Meanwhile, he has relied more on increasingly high-tech and expensive fabrication processes for the production of his work. Pace is now likely to foot the major part of the bill on those productions.

Those productions—and the artist’s alleged failure to deliver them on time—have at times led to major lawsuits and headaches for galleries.

In 2018, billionaire financier Steven Tananbaum sued Gagosian over the delayed delivery of a multimillion-dollar sculpture by Koons. Tananbaum alleged that he had to wait several years—much longer than he said he expected—for three sculptures by the artist that he agreed to purchase starting in 2013. A similar complaint was filed by film producer Joel Silver the same year.

In 2016, a separate multimillion-dollar lawsuit was thrown at Zwirner by Old Master dealer Fabrizio Moretti, who alleged that the dealer was engaged in “chicanery” and played a game of “three-card monte” with various editions of a Koons “Gazing Ball” sculpture.


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