Of Diamonds and Sharks

For the past two decades, Larry Gagosian has been by a wide margin the most powerful gallerist in the world. Now he’s facing two bruising lawsuits, an exodus of some of his most prized talent, and, at the very least, the loosening of his vise grip on the world’s art markets.

  1. “Hey, Larry.” Alberto Mugrabi was having a drink in the lobby at Claridge’s Hotel when his cell phone flashed to tell him Larry Gagosian was calling. It was June 2009, and they were in London for a week of auctions. Gagosian and Mugrabi are among the richest and most powerful figures in the art world, though the two function differently. Working primarily as a gallerist, Gagosian puts on exhibitions for several dozen artists and is responsible for building their careers—or, in the case of the deceased artists he also shows, representing their estates. Mugrabi, along with his father and brother, operates a private art dealership and trades with other collectors behind a cloak of relative obscurity. Gagosian and the Mugrabis collect several of the same artists and sometimes purchase pictures together as a way not so much of halving their own respective costs but of ensuring that they are committed to the same investments. That was why Gagosian was phoning. In a couple of hours, Sotheb...

The complete text of “Of Diamonds and Sharks” is not in the Byliner library, but we love it so much we included an excerpt and a link to the full story on www.vulture.com.

Originally published in New York, January 2013

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