The question of Larry Gagosian’s legacy has been a hot topic of late, with rumours being circulated—and vigorously denied—that the mega-dealer is selling his business to French billionaire Bernard Arnault’s LVMH group.
Today, however, Gagosian has announced a new, star-studded board of directors, 12 of them external and eight of them gallery staff (including Gagosian himself). Among the external members are Delphine Arnault, Bernard Arnault’s eldest daughter and a member of the executive committee of LVMH; the film-maker Sofia Coppola; the Snapchat creator Evan Spiegel; the artist Jenny Saville, who is represented by the gallery; the curator Francesco Bonami and the hedge-fund manager J. Tomilson Hill.
Gagosian says in a statement that his goal in assembling the board is “to raise the bar on the gallery’s strategic thinking and vision for the future”. He adds: “I felt it was important to welcome different perspectives and experiences into a conversation about the opportunities and challenges facing artists today and tomorrow, as well as the future of collecting.”
Of the selected members, who are listed in full below, Gagosian says he has “gathered many of the most talented minds in their respective industries, a number of whom have specific experience at the intersection of their trade and art. Their insights can help us validate our priorities and how we are positioning the business for success and growth”. Of course, all are art top collectors themselves, and many of them trustees of major museums.
As for potential collaborations and joint ventures, it is likely that there will be more crossover between Gagosian and LVMH—gallery artists past and present including Jeff Koons, Takashi Murakami, Jonas Wood, Urs Fischer and Alex Israel have previously collaborated with the luxury brand. Evan Spiegel’s input, meanwhile, could bring more tech initiatives to the gallery, which successfully piloted online viewing rooms before the pandemic, selling an Albert Oehlen painting for $6m in March 2019. Most recently, Gagosian collaborated with Clone X to present a Murakami exhibition in virtual reality.
The board was established in late 2021 and first met in May, possibly prompting the rumours of the LVMH buyout. Due to meet twice annually, the group met for the second time last week. Members “will be compensated”, according to a Gagosian spokesman, but they will “have no financial interest in the gallery”, nor will they have voting rights. The gallery remains entirely under Gagosian's ownership.
By contrast, in July, Bernard Arnault changed the legal structure of his family holding company, Agache, to a joint-stock partnership to ensure family control over LVMH in the long-term. The Arnault family, through various legal entities, owns 47.99% of LVMH and has 63.5% of voting rights in the luxury group. At 73, Arnault has not publicly named a successor.
Unlike Arnault, Gagosian, who is 77, does not have children, so the question of his legacy is arguably more complicated. Which is perhaps why he is keen to explore new and unorthodox directions for his 19-strong gallery empire—ensuring his virtually unrivalled brand continues long after he is gone.
Matthew S. Dontzin
J. Tomilson Hill
Dasha Zhukova Niarchos
Andrew Fabricant, chief operating officer
Serena Cattaneo Adorno, senior director, Paris
Alison McDonald, chief creative officer
Stefan Ratibor, senior director, London
Nick Simunovic, senior director, Hong Kong
Kara Vander Weg, senior director, New York
Millicent Wilner, senior director, London