This is the sign of a change of era and one of the main topics of conversation at the Basel fair, during which the news was announced: the gallery owner Emmanuel Perrotin will sell 60% of his company to the Colony investment fund. IM. Usually specializing in real estate, credit and “private equity”, it announces that it manages 3 billion euros in assets. Perrotin has nearly ten galleries on three continents (Paris, New York, Hong Kong, Shanghai, Tokyo, Seoul, Dubai, etc.), an opening planned for Los Angeles, and it does not intend to stop there: this marriage will allow it to develop on a scale never before achieved by a French gallery…
“The idea is to put in place governance adapted to a company of this size”, explains the President and CEO of Colony IM, Nadra Moussalem. “Emmanuel will remain the chairman of a board of directors that we will form. Together, we will choose someone to lead the company in its daily life and drive its expansion, of which Emmanuel will remain the animator, just as he remains for the artistic part. We are going to play our role as attentive shareholders, as in all the companies in which we invest. Each has its place. »
Some praised the performance, such as Julien Lombrail, co-founder of the Carpenters Workshop Gallery. And for good reason: his contemporary design gallery is 25% owned by the Montefiore investment fund. “This allowed us to structure ourselves, to recruit, to borrow more easily, to have the cash to buy historic design and thus position ourselves in the vintage sector”, explains Julien Lombrail. But most of Perrotin’s colleagues greeted the news with skepticism. “It’s not the path I would choose, comments the American art dealer Jeffrey Deitch. I value my independence, the fact of making decisions that don’t make sense in terms of business but of art. » Her colleague Nathalie Obadia adds: “The heart of this profession must remain embodied and personalized. »
Adapt the gallery to the XXIe century
However, disruptive since its inception, Emmanuel Perrotin has chosen other methods, in particular by strongly delegating: “I love collective decision-making, including choosing artists, something I’ve been doing for a long time. I lacked shared decision-making on the economic aspects: I’ve done my whole career with a wet finger. Being able to take them collectively with people whose job it is is a chance, and those who don’t think so are not, in my opinion, real entrepreneurs. What interests me is changing the model of the gallery, adapting it to the XXIe century, not reproduce that of the XIXe. »
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