Unpacking the Recent Shakeups in Gagosian’s Succession Planning

Larry Gagosian just made some big changes at the gallery's top levels, shaping his strategy to keep his empire dominant, with or without him.

Dealer Larry Gagosian (seen here in 1991) will likely surprise the art world with his succession plans. Photo by Lynn Goldsmith/Corbis/VCG via Getty Images

After fifteen years in business together, founder Larry Gagosian announced Andrew Fabricant’s departure from the gallery in an email. Five years ago, Fabricant was appointed Chief Operating Officer of Gagosian to bring some corporate discipline and create a path that would smooth the future passage of the helm. He wielded a great deal of power, to the point that the art market rumor mill was saying he could be the one to take over the Gagosian empire once Larry Gagosian’s succession plan was revealed.

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When Fabricant joined the company, the gallery relied on a group of ambitious and mostly independent senior directors who responded when the “big boss” made all the decisions. It notably lacked a proper corporate infrastructure and, shortly after joining the gallery, Fabricant introduced an HR team and an IT department and put a CFO in charge of the finances.

Photo di Andrew Fabricant And Laura Paulson
Andrew Fabricant and Laura Paulson at the DIA Art Fall Gala in 2009. Patrick McMullan via Getty Image

Several details suggest that tensions between the different parties forced this seemingly abrupt departure. Although Fabricant hasn’t released a statement, people closer to his world have suggested he might have ended up in a backward position, having to balance a one-man business and the interests and ambitions of multiple directors. Fabricant’s wife, Laura Paulson, head of the gallery’s Art Advisory services, left the gallery with him.

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Following Bloomberg’s announcement of the leadership change at the gallery, Gagosian emailed a statement to Artnet News: “At this moment in the solution, we arrived at the point where I decided it was time for us to part ways. We are grateful for their contributions over the past several years and wish them well.”

All this happened a few weeks after Gagosian announced the appointment of Brooke Lampley, former Chairman of Sotheby's Fine Art Division, who would join the gallery as Senior Director. Lampley began her career at Christie's and quickly made a name for herself as a specialist in Impressionist and Modern Art; she played a crucial role in securing and managing high-profile auctions and private sales, including the art collection of billionaire A. Alfred Taubman. Her reputation for being a dealmaker at Christie’s made her an exciting candidate for competitor Sotheby’s, where she was appointed vice chairman of the Fine Art Division and secured major sales, including that of real estate developer Harry Macklowe’s collection most recently. She’s reportedly bringing some of her notable long-time clients, including billionaires Ken Griffin and Stephen Schwarzman, with her in the transition.

A woman in a floral dress stands next to a fountain lined with tea light candles
Brooke Lampley in 2022. Carl Timpone/BFA.com

In 2021, Larry Gagosian formed a board of directors to help think through his business structure. In addition to seven of his key associates (including Andrew Fabricant) and Gagosian himself, the board is comprised of twelve people from various industries. These external members include Evan Spiegel, the chief executive of Snap; the artist Jenny Saville; the financier J. Tomilson Hill, who is the chairman of the Guggenheim Museum; Glenn Fuhrman, a financier and founder of the Flag Art Foundation; and Delphine Arnault, the executive vice president of Louis Vuitton who also serves on the executive committee of its parent company LVMH, run by her father Bernard Arnault, one of the world’s most notable and wealthiest art collectors. The board meets twice annually to provide strategic insight and guidance for the gallery.

At this point, the famed gallerist can only offer surprises when it comes to his succession. He is clearly making fast moves on different fronts to find the best strategy to keep his empire at the top of the art market, but at the same time, other significant galleries have already forged successful succession planning pathways, as seen most recently at Gladstone with the passing of Barbara Gladstone, and the thoughtful diversification and expansion of galleries into different but adjacent industries, such as hospitality.

Unpacking the Recent Shakeups in Gagosian’s Succession Planning