The formidable powerhouse gallery PaceWildenstein decide to break up
their merger after seventeen years of business. Pace and Wildenstein
& Company, formed a joint company in 1993 in order to share clients
and create a one-stop shop, have announced that they are ending their
partnership on amicable terms.
Insiders say the deal involved the exchange of hundreds of millions of dollars, with Pace buying out the 49 percent share that Wildenstein & Company owned in both the company and the inventory owned jointly by the two galleries. That newly acquired trove of paintings is believed to include works by Newman and Rothko, whose estate is represented by Pace.
Arne Glimcher, chairman of Pace explained to The New York times that “There is no logic in keeping it going.” When the two first united, Pace was known for its bankable list of postwar artists and Wildenstein & Company for its strong holdings in prewar work dating as far back as the Renaissance, making the two natural allies at a time when secondary markets sales were vital for underpinning an adventurous contemporary program. However, the wide range of PaceWildenstein’s offerings is believed to hold less appeal in today’s art market, in which collectors tend to buy only within specialized fields. Glimcher further stated that “we are not exchanging clients in the way we once were.”
The separation is amicable, both sides said. Pace will go back to being the Pace Gallery, the original name it had when it was founded in 1960. It will continue to operate the spaces on East 57th Street and in Chelsea that had become PaceWildenstein, as well as Pace Beijing, which opened in 2008. The Wildenstein headquarters on East 64th Street in Manhattan had never taken Pace’s name and will continue to run as before.
Guy Wildenstein, president of the company that bears his name, said that although he was still interested in contemporary art (the Wildenstein Institute, an art-historical research and publishing arm of the business, has long overseen catalogues raisonnés like that of Jasper Johns), it had never represented living artists. Since the firm was founded in 1875, it has built its reputation on selling major works of art — by the likes of Ingres, Goya, Monet and Cézanne — to collectors and major museums.
Even though they will no longer formally run a company as one, “we will continue to keep working together,” Mr. Glimcher said.