• gerard van weyenbergh

Marlborough gallery ended because of family dispute

A Shakespearean family dispute ended the 74 years of existence of the Marlborough Gallery in New York. They were opposing Gilbert Lloyd, the former boss of the London gallery, son of founder Frank Lloyd who had anglicized his name of Levaï, and Pierre Levaï, the latter's nephew, associated with his son Max, president of the gallery trust for a year.

This decision came during a board meeting when Pierre Levaï, 83, was struggling to recover from a coronavirus attack only to find himself sidelined following a maneuver led by Franz Plutschow, the irremovable chief accountant. of Marlborough International and Stanley J. Bergman, representing the law firm Withers Bergman.

The gallery had recently changed with the departure of several collaborators and several others' layoffs due to the covid-19 pandemic. At the same time, its business had not suffered too much from the lockdown period decided at that time. Still, the board of directors had preferred to cancel exhibitions and a project to expand the gallery's surface area to preserve its funds to face the economic crisis and recession that were looming.

In this case, one half of the ruling family sidelined the other. Max Levaï said he regretted breaking ties with the Marlborough International board of directors despite the planned expansion project well advanced but that his decisions had affected his family and endangered his parents' health.

It is not yet clear what will be done for the London gallery, whereas that of the Chelsea Arts Tower, inaugurated in New York in 2007, still belongs to the Lloyd family trust. Last year, the trust decided to end the lease of its space located on 57th Street, the headquarters of the gallery since its installation in New York in 1963.

Although the gallery's business was going quite well, members of the board of trustees, mainly bankers and foreign businessmen in the art community, reportedly grew increasingly wary of this area in being worried about declining sales to decide to reduce the sails but according to other sources, the family dispute would have originated in a real estate project approved a year ago and subsequently abandoned when Max Levaï had announced in mid -2019 that the gallery had to buy 19 million next building of its space to the 25th Street.

Moreover, a deposit had been paid to Howard Read, the co-owner of this building before launching a project to merge the two buildings which had been approved by the Chelsea Arts Tower and the municipality.

However, we learned in January 2020 that the building in question had John Cheim as the new owner, who had paid nothing for this property apart from the settlement of $ 297 registration fees but while a payment was due to Read by the Lloyd Trust, the Marlborough Board of Directors canceled the transaction on the pretext of difficulties for the art market following the pandemic to want to renegotiate it before deciding to close its Chelsea space Arts Tower.

Technically, Max Levaï remains president of the operations of the gallery which has just participated in Art Basel but even so, the Lloyd family would decide to continue the activities of the gallery in London, the history of that of New York which exhibited artists like Jackson Pollock, Mark Rothko, Philip Guston or Robert Motherwell, would be over. Started 50 years ago, she had seen Pierre Levaï sell a hundred works of Rothko at low prices, which had earned him a heavy fine by a court, a case that had since stuck to the Basques of the gallery.

In charge of the Chelsea space since 2013, Max Levai had ensured the promotion of new artists but now he will have to fall back on the direction of the new Alone Gallery of the Hamptons with a selection of works by Alex Katz and other lesser-known sizes that he intends to protect.