Just two years after four prominent dealers announced with fanfare the consolidation of their Upper East Side operations, the new gallery split, with one prominent member deciding to return to run his own operation.
On Friday, the group announced that Jean Greenberg Rohatyn “will leave the existing partnership to reopen Salon 94, returning his attention to exhibitions and his art advisory practice at 3 East 89th Street.”
Dominique Lévy, Brett Gorvy and Amalia Dayan will continue under the banner of Lévy Gorvy Dayan at 19 East 64th St., presenting exhibitions and advising clients as a newly formed art family office.
By releasing the news on a summer Friday — and delaying its announcement for months — the gallery clearly hoped to minimize the impact. On Thursday, Levy said in an email to this reporter questions: “Really a non-event. We are just following our hearts and our respective passions and will continue to work together in different ways.”
But given the financial weight and high profile of the gallery’s four members, the group can hardly expect the news to land quietly. Artnet’s Katya Kazakina trumpeted: “EXCLUSIVE: Blue-chip gallery LGDR splits after less than 2 years.”
And the breakup confirms what industry market experts predicted when the merger was first announced: serious friction between the four famously powerful figures and the possible implosion of the firm in a short period of time.
Although the gallery presented some notable shows and put a good face on art, Greenberg was clearly growing pains as the firm assembled under Rohatyn’s roof: a neo-Renaissance townhouse on East 89th St. that he opened after a major restoration. and renovations by architect Raffaele Vinoli (who died in May).
The adjustment was obviously the biggest for Greenberg Rohatyn, who suddenly had to share his space and lose his independence after 20 years of running his own show in Bowery locations and out of his Upper East Side home.
“It was a natural decision that grew out of 18 months of working together,” Greenberg Rohatyn said in a telephone interview Friday. “I missed the ability to react quickly and put the exhibit on the floor without multiple people agreeing to it.”
Levy said in a phone conversation Friday: “We came to the conclusion in a very organic way that a formal partnership of four was not fulfilling. So it became clear that Jean really missed her solo practice and Amalya, Brett and I had a lot more in common.
The partners initially dissolved the existing businesses and merged into one entity in 2021, promoting a new model of one-stop shopping with four experienced dealers with different areas of expertise — Levi’s, Europe; Gorvis, Asia; Greenberg Rohatyn, Contemporary Art; and Dianes, Middle East.
The partners hoped to better compete with the big boys: Gagosian, Zwirner, Pace and Hauser & Wirth.
Levy and Gorvy have left their Madison Avenue gallery, Levy Gorvy (Gorvy left to join Christie’s in 2016). Dayan recently left Luxembourg and Dayan, which closed its New York location. Last spring they were all on East 64th St.
Lévy Gorvy Dayan will open its fall season with a retrospective of Pierre Soulages, the French abstract painter who died last October. The event will be hosted by the artist’s long time friend Levy. The firm will continue to exhibit in London, Paris and Milan under its European president, Victoria Gelfand-Magalhès, and in Hong Kong as Levi Garvey Dayan & Wei in partnership with Rebecca Wei.
In October, Salon 94 will reactivate on East 89th St. with a solo show of American sculptors. Caron Davis, “Beauty must be suffered,” focuses on the figure of the black ballerina.
In November, the four partners will present their final schedule Collaboration at East 64th St., an exhibit Artist Jenna Gribbon, Featuring new large-scale portraits of his wife and muse Mackenzie Scott.
On the occasion of the merger in 2021, Levy said: “The four musketeers are powerful by definition.” Now those four have reduced to three.