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The Gagosian Gallery storefront on Madison Avenue, mid-September 2011
The Gagosian Gallery storefront on Madison Avenue, mid-September 2011


Oct. 7, 2011

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Megadealer Larry Gagosian’s retail store at 988 Madison Avenue abruptly closed its doors last weekend, prompting a flurry of commentary on Page Six in the New York Post, which broke the story, and all the art blogs, which ran with it. The Post suggested that financial difficulties might be behind the move, while Marion Maneker at the Art Market Monitor wondered if the closure could be a sign that there “isn’t much of a market for artists’ diffusion lines.”

Now, an insider says that the sudden shuttering was a lease decision by landlord Aby Rosen, who probably wants to combine the several small Carlyle Galleries Building storefronts into a larger, more leasable space. "Rosen made us a good deal when we opened two years ago, and now the lease is up," the source said. "Consider the shop a long pop-up." Is the market for Madison Avenue real estate improving? The thought is that Rosen could get a higher return from a different kind of luxe tenant.

The gallery merchandise remains for sale online, where a Philip Taaffe tattoo can be had for $5, a Christopher Wool poster for $20, a Damien Hirst pink t-shirt printed with blue butterflies for $60 and an Ed Ruscha "Bowtie Landscape" print for $2,500.

Needless to say, such wares don't really offer the kind of price margin that is typical for Gagosian Gallery. "Although it ultimately worked as an experiment for the gallery, the shop represented a lot of work with not much payoff," said the insider.

The ground-floor shop's basement level housed a New York outlet for Damien Hirst’s retail store Other Criteria, which sells limited-edition works by Hirst as well as editions, shirts, prints, books and other wares from emerging artists. Other Criteria’s flagship London location is still open.

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