After more than a month of coronavirus shutdowns, Gagosian is feeling the economic pressure. The mega-gallery, which had previously closed all of its 18 spaces amid the growing health crisis, announced this week that it would furlough part-time staff and interns while also implementing salary reductions for full-time employees across the board.
“Gagosian, like most businesses, is facing an unprecedented time due to the global Coronavirus pandemic.” said Virginia Coleman, a spokeswoman for the company. “It is our hope that these reductions will help ensure the gallery stays strong.”
Gagosian employs roughly 250 people and has 5 spaces in New York, one the cities hardest hit by the coronavirus. The gallery would not confirm exactly how many workers will be impacted, or what percent salary reduction staff would receive. (One source told ARTnews that the cuts will be 20 percent, far lower than the dealer’s 50 percent cuts following the 2008 financial crisis.)
Despite the vast financial uncertainty of the Covid-19 outbreak, dealers and auction houses have tried to remain positive — even as sales forecasts have plummeted and programming comes to a halt. Earlier this month, Pace Gallery furloughed roughly a quarter of the staff at the gallery’s flagship New York location. Another top gallery, Lévy Gorvy, also confirmed that layoffs had been instituted. And after delaying sales and shifting some auctions online, Sotheby’s and Christie’s both recently announced furloughs, with remaining employees at the former institution taking 20 percent pay cuts.
A representative for David Zwirner gallery, one of Gagosian’s greatest competitors, told ARTnews that although it has not yet had to lay off employees, the company is participating in subsidized furlough programs offered by the United Kingdom and France. The mega-dealer recently launched an online platform for its art sales, opening up its virtual showrooms to a dozen independent New York galleries including Essex Street, James Fuentes, 47 Canal and Magenta Plains.