Bloomberg’s profile of David Zwirner has some interesting points on how Zwirner has improved his operations to perform better in the recession:
Zwirner’s gallery represents 36 artists, including Tuymans, Rauch, Isa Genzken and the late Jason Rhoades. In the past year alone, he has added painters Marlene Dumas, Suzan Frecon and the estate of Alice Neel to his stable. [ . . . ]
Brokering deals and selling his own art inventory on the secondary market, where prices are higher, is one way to generate cash in lean times, Zwirner said.
In addition, he’s trying to reduce his operational costs. Two years ago, Zwirner hired business consultant Suki Larson to make his expanding empire more efficient. To that end, they took over services they had previously outsourced, such as storage, marketing and art handling.
“We have much better quality control,” he said. And they’ve saved money. For example, the gallery consolidated four storage facilities into two, including a 17,500-square-foot space in Queens, cutting expenses by $300,000 a year, he said.
Concerned about tying up capital, Zwirner said he will no longer produce expensive pieces by artists unless he has secured buyers for them in advance.
“It’s not a time to spend $1 million on producing a sculpture,” said Zwirner. “It could be needed to fund operations or buy inventory.”
Zwirner Bucks Tanking Art Market (Bloomberg)