Is Larry Gagosian Turning the Harkness Mansion Into His Own Private Gallery?

The carriage house. (Property Shark)

Something of a live/work space would not be unusual for Mr. Gagosian. In the late 1970s and early 1980s, before he got a space in Sandro Chia’s studio building on West 23rd Street in 1985, he operated a private gallery in a loft on West Broadway, where he continued to live after he opened in Chelsea. (In an early interview, Mr. Gagosian recalled buying that loft in 1978 for $10,000 and a Brice Marden painting.) The West Broadway space, which was at one time operated by Mr. Gagosian in cooperation with dealer Annina Nosei, was, in fact, where David Salle had his first New York exhibition.

In his native Los Angeles, Mr. Gagosian ran a similar operation in the 1980s. Exhibitions were held in a space on Market Street in Venice in a gallery that was attached to his home there. That building was designed for Mr. Gagosian by architect Robert Mangurian in the early 1980s.

He mixes work and hearth to this day. On Oscar weekend this year, Mr. Gagosian hosted a get together at his new Holmby Hills home in L.A.—he had just purchased it for a cool $15.5 million the year before. According to The Wall Street Journal, members of the staff “mingled with guests, discreetly passing a rolled-up sheet of paper between them like a baton. The sheet listed prices for nearly every artwork in sight.”

Indeed, a similar air of showiness suffuses Mr. Gagosian’s current home inside a converted stable at 147 East 69th Street. (The street has long been a haven for artistic types—in addition to Mr. Feigen’s gallery, Mark Rothko had and Jacob Collins has a studio on East 69th.) Pieces from his prodigious private collection hang on the walls, including Richard Prince, Andy Warhol, Cy Twombly, Damien Hirst, Roy Lichtenstein and countless contemporaries. He is said to have what may be Picasso’s last painting hanging over his bed.

Since the Harkness Mansion is more than three times as large as Mr. Gagosian’s current 6,525-square-foot abode, it may well be the manse will be his new home. Which is to say that no Gagosian home is ever just a home. The Harkness gives him considerably more space in which to hang personal art, which everyone knows, despite appearances, is all always for sale. After all, buyers love buying off the gallerist’s walls. It’s an old trick that gives the art a personal touch and, naturally, drives up the price.

“Is it anything a standard gallery person could do and get away with? Probably not,” said one source. “It’s not something Gavin Brown could or even would do. But Larry’s a word of mouth, private client, private banking kind of guy. It won’t be his gallery. It will be his salon.”

mchaban [at] observer.com | @MC_NYC

Is Larry Gagosian Turning the Harkness Mansion Into His Own Private Gallery?