The Wall Street Journal’s magazine has a long and familiar profile of Larry Gagosian. If you’re not familiar with the pre-eminent art dealer’s story, it’s pretty much all there. Or, at least, all that you’re going to get. Otherwise, the story has few surprises.
But there is something worth focusing on. One of the big sellers in the auctions coming up is a major hedge fund operator who has become part of a complex transaction involving some of Gagosian’s signature artists. The hedgie is rumored to require art pros who come to see his holdings sign non-disclosure forms and refrain from taking pictures.
The precautions are more charming than anything else because a really good dealer, collector or curator is born with or develops a very strong visual memory. Here’s a case in point told to the WSJ by the Tate’s Nicholas Serota:
“He has the most astonishing visual memory,” says Serota. “He can remember particular works hanging on particular walls in exhibitions or in a private collection or appearing at auction. If you talk to him about a work, more often than not, he’ll know where it is, who owns it and when he last saw it.”
For collector Eli Broad, Gagosian once tracked a Susan Rothenberg horse painting to the dining room wall of St. Louis art dealer Ronnie Greenberg. “It wasn’t for sale,” Broad says, “but Gagosian said, ‘C’mon, you’re a dealer,’ and convinced him to send me a photo for approval.” Broad, who recently opened a museum in L.A., estimates that he and his wife, Edythe, have acquired about 40 percent of their nearly 2,000-piece collection from Gagosian.