World's top art dealers plan capital showcase

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The Independent Online
THE WORLD's smartest money is backing the development of London as Europe's top contemporary art centre, it emerged yesterday.

The Wildenstein Gallery in Bond Street, which has slumbered for decades in a cocoon of velvet, fitted carpets and Old Masters, is to become the centre of Europe's contemporary art market with the conversion of its bottom three floors into the first Pace-Wildenstein Gallery outside New York.

It is to be a European showcase for New York's Pace Gallery, the world's leading contemporary dealership. Pace handles names such as Georg Baselitz, Claes Oldenburg, Julian Schnabel and Antoni Tapies, as well as the estates of Picasso, Henry Moore, Rothko and Dubuffet.

Six months ago it became the richest contemporary gallery in the world when its founding father, Arne Glimscher, sold 49 per cent of the business to the Wildensteins, a French art-dealing family of legendary wealth. They can now afford to buy any great collections or artist's estates that become available.

Anthony d'Offay and Leslie Waddington, currently London's leading contemporary dealers, are going to have their noses put out of joint. Not only will their businesses be dwarfed by Pace, but several of the artists they regularly show are exclusively attached to Pace-Wildenstein and will now be exhibited in Bond Street.

The new gallery will be run by David Grob, 39, who has a gallery in Dering Street, W1. He has mounted mould- breaking shows of Brancusi photographs and Medardo Rosso sculptures, as well as discovering and marketing contemporary artists.

Los Angeles and Hong Kong were talked of as the first locations for the partners' new outlets but London has been preferred.

The Wildensteins already had an under-utilised gallery in Bond Street and they decided to use it as a bridgehead to channel the partnership's European business. The top three floors will be run, as before, as a Wildenstein outlet.

A masterpiece by the 17th- century French painter Eustache Le Sueur, Christ on the Cross with Mary Magdalen, the Virgin and Saint John the Evangelist, sold for a record pounds 397,500 at Christie's yesterday. It was bought for the National Gallery.