by Eileen Kinsella
First, it was the Hamptons. Now, it’s Palm Beach.
Amid the global health crisis, the art market is once again following the uber-wealthy to their hideaways. Over the spring and summer, the migration was to the Hamptons, where blue-chip galleries and auction houses quickly organized pop-up spaces to take advantage of deep-pocketed New Yorkers fleeing East.
Now, with the cooler months approaching, major galleries including Pace and Acquavella, as well as Sotheby’s, have announced plans to launch spaces in Palm Beach. “If present trends continue, Worth Avenue is going to become the new Madison Avenue, as the Upper East Side moves south for the winter,” Thomas Danziger, an attorney who specializes in art law, told Artnet News.
Top collectors with homes or ties to the area include asset-management kingpin Glenn Dubin; hedge-funder Kenneth Griffin; Estée Lauder heir Ronald Lauder and his wife Jo Carole; embattled casino mogul-turned-art dealer Steve Wynn; emerging art specialist Beth Rudin DeWoody; and executive Henry Kravis and his wife Marie-Josée, the president emerita of MoMA’s board.
Nick Korniloff, a veteran art-fair organizer who plans to hold the fifth edition of his Palm Beach art fair in January, says the new blue-chip pop-ups prove that “a focus on digital and the regional seasonal niche luxury residential markets has become even more important for galleries to reinforce [and] generate new relationships and conduct business under the current international travel constraints."
Longtime dealer Sarah Gavlak, for her part, wonders why it took so long for the art world to catch on to the wonders of Palm Beach. She opened her eponymous space in the sunny town in 2005 before launching a location in Los Angeles, and then a newer space in Palm Beach in 2014.
“It is such a smart and sophisticated community of collectors,” Gavlak told Artnet News. Since opening, “I have made an effort to present a diverse roster of artists, encouraging the community to engage in challenging conversations; so I look forward to seeing this discourse grow in new ways with the arrival of these galleries.”
Pace will open in Palm Beach on November 9 with a presentation dedicated to aperture wall installations by California Light & Space artist James Turrell, followed by a series of solo and group shows by artists including Alexander Calder, Mary Corse, Tara Donovan, and Sam Gilliam. Pace plans to stay in the space at least until spring 2021.
Meanwhile, for Acquavella, the Palm Beach outpost represents its first physical gallery outside of New York in its 99-year history. Eleanor Acquavella is spearheading the project. The inaugural show, “Masterworks: From Cézanne to Thiebaud,” opens November 1. Acquavella and Sotheby’s private sales office will both occupy the Royal Poinciana Plaza, a landmarked architectural building.
Of course, the success of these outposts also depends on the fate of the virus, which the state struggled to get under control over the summer. According to the Florida government’s health website, cases are ticking up after a downward trend in mid-September. The number of new cases on September 30 was reported as 2,814, up from 2,063 on September 28. Deaths have been trending downward sharply over the course of the past month; the infection rate has hovered between four and just over five percent.
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