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7 Days: Larry Gagosian, Art’s Bad Boy

When Adam Moss stepped down as editor of New York journal final month, it marked the top of an era. Since taking the helm of the august title in 2004, Moss had helped set the business commonplace for journal journalism, documenting the lifetime of the town in all its highbrow, lowbrow, sensible, and despicable glory.

In fact, as dedicated media-watchers know, much of the New York‘s DNA was apparent three decades ago, when Moss emerged from Manhattan’s media panorama because the 30-year-old wunderkind behind the much-loved, short-lived 7 Days magazine. Revealed by then-Voice proprietor Leonard Stern for 2 years bridging the ’80s and ’90s, 7 Days was an excellent failure, bleeding cash, but minting the reputations for a era of fledgling journalists.

Flipping by means of the 7 Days archives at present is an exercise in pleasant discovery. There’s Jeffrey Toobin writing concerning the Yankees, lengthy before he turned the lead authorized analyst for the New Yorker; future best-selling writer Meg Wolitzer (The Spouse) writing the weekly crossword puzzle; a daily magazine-watching column from fellow future best-selling writer Walter Kirn (Up within the Air); Peter Schjeldahl masking the humanities scene; Joan Acocella on dance.

Over the subsequent week, we here on the Voice archives will probably be sharing a few of these treasures from the vault. Welcome to seven days of 7 Days.

December 20, 1989

What Makes Larry Go-Go?

In early fall, the Dia Art Foundation held a glittering benefit honoring artist Tim Rollins and his sta­ble of proteges referred to as Okay.O.S. After viewing the artwork and scarfing down the $300-a-plate dinner, the black-tie crowd stood around the matted tables commenting on the meals and one an­others’ garments, buying and selling the standard art world gossip­ — who bought what artworks that week, and for a way much.

Within the middle of all of it stood one man in his early 40s, surveying the elegant carnage. His prematurely grey hair standing out like a silver beacon, he rotated relaxation­lessly, purveying all corners of the room. Skipping over the unknowns, his steely eyes targeted only once they lit on one collector or one other. The person seemed a bit distant — as if he hadn’t but gotten what he’d come for.

The gang, which included such collectors as Elaine Dannheisser, Gerald Elliott, and Jan Cowles, as well as “arts socialites” like Kitty Carlisle Hart, gave this man broad berth. They knew — some from firsthand experience — that his magnetic character is highly effective enough to attract even the unwilling.

The person abruptly noticed an essential midwest­ern collector with whom he formerly did lots of busi­ness and with whom he want to do extra. In a single fluid movement he darted throughout the room. The collector, reduce from his group of buddies like a steer from its herd, was virtually pinned towards the wall. They spoke for a couple of moments, the collector clearly writhing in ache beneath the strain of the conversation. He remaining­ly spotted a good friend and managed to wriggle away.

“With Larry around,” the collector confessed, al­most out of breath, ”I’ve obtained to maintain my palms in my pockets.”

THE MAN IS LARRY GAGOSIAN. He’s referred to as a supplier but is admittedly more of a broker, since he has made his popularity by selling different individuals’s artwork at higher prices than other dealers can. As a result of he works in a fashion more typical of real estate devel­opers and movie executives than of circumspect artwork sellers, he’s achieved a stranglehold on the resale market, the one unbiased vendor capable of compete with the auction homes in, at present’s frenzied art mar­ket.

In a way, Gagosian is a product of the occasions. He isn’t a lot curious about finding an excellent younger art­ist toiling away in a garret. He’s enthusiastic about selling the artist’s work once the artist has made it and the painting has been bought. However, then, resale is where the most important artwork bucks are. And it’s at resale — or the secondary market, as it is referred to as — that Larry Gagosian is such a genius.

It’s not a lot his style as his nostril for the market and his potential to coerce which have made him both en­vied and feared. He has a knack for getting individuals who love artwork and have plenty of cash to take the paint­ings off their partitions after which sell them to other people who love art and have even more cash. It’s a neat business: if there’s a buyer with prepared cash, ready to snap up a painting, it requires little working capi­tal apart from gallery overhead. Though Gagosian never says how much he purchases himself and how a lot he handles on consignment, it’s clear that much is on consignment. In other phrases, he can make much of his cash with out spending a dime.

The trick in the resale market is to gather collec­tors, and nowadays Gagosian associates with a few of the major collectors of up to date artwork around. Conde Nast’s Si Newhouse is a shopper of his, as is In­terview owner Peter Brant. However maybe Gagosian’s largest fish is promoting big Charles Saatchi, who has begun gently promoting off one of the best col­lections of up to date art on the planet.

For concerning the final yr and a half, Gagosian has touted himself as the only agent for the gathering, though Saatchi himself has by no means publicly acknowl­edged this arrangement. So far, Gagosian has bought perhaps 10 % of the good modern maintain­ings that Saatchi has amassed over the previous decade, but this will likely just be the start. Saatchi’s not commenting on how a lot he’s finally planning to sell, however his footage have been often displaying up in Gagosian’s gallery. Signs are that more will soon be bought, and Gagosian will get a healthy commis­sion (5 to 15 %) on each bit.

Indeed, it was by way of Saatchi that Gagosian received a number of the greatest main works he’s dealt with — works by Robert Ryman, Brice Marden, Eric Fischl, Francesco Clemente (Gagosian helped promote the 12 Stations of the Cross), Sigmar Polke (Paganini, a seminal work, now belongs to Swiss supplier Thomas Ammann), Anselm Keifer, and others. Gagosian additionally occurs presently to be handling a Keifer of Sylves­ter Stallone’s, Das Wolundlied. At $1.6 million, Stal­lone overpaid for this painting. He entrusted it to Ga­gosian simply because only Gagosian seems more likely to come near recouping on the funding.

In addition to his good workplaces with main individ­ual collectors, Gagosian has a relationship with the Andy Warhol property he describes as “close.” He’s bought various essential Warhols, together with many from the estate, and has shortly turn into a serious participant within the Warhol market.

What does he truly do? Gagosian’s a human perpetual-motion machine. Relating to a paint­ing he is aware of he needs to sell, he demonstrates al­most unyielding tenacity with each the original personal­er and the potential quyer. He makes lots of of calls a day — from his workplace, his residence, his automotive. To catch up with Gagosian on his automotive telephone when the road begins to fade is to seek out Gagosian talking relent­lessly via the static. (“The phone is Larry’s weapon of choice,” a fellow vendor suggests.) No marvel they name him Go-Go.

Day in and day trip, he hangs on the wire, providing vast amounts to collectors like Newhouse, MoMA board member Agnes Gund, and Wall Road wizard Robert Mnuchin for their footage. Not taking no for an answer is nearly a recreation for him.

He may be, as many will recount, persistent and abrasive — especially if one thing or someone is im­peding a business deal. Every part is for sale and Ga­gosian needs to promote it. He spots his quarry early and retains upping the ante till, in true godfather fash­ion, he makes collectors a suggestion they will’t refuse.

MUCH OF HIS PAST IS UNKNOWN and he likes to keep it that approach. He got here from California, the place he went to UCLA in the ’60s, however is reluctant to provide details of his life within the late ’60s and early ’70s, which provides him an aura he seems to love to domesticate.

Bypassing the normal routes — artwork faculty or apprenticeship at a gallery — Gagosian started in enterprise by promoting posters, presumably because this was the place he first noticed the opportunity to make mon­ey in artwork. In 1980 he opened his first gallery in Los Angeles and found a number of collectors like Dynasty professional­ducer Douglas Cramer and industrialist Eli Broad, individuals who understood Gagosian when he spoke the language of the deal. He obtained them great footage, they usually turned allies.

Inside a few years Gagosian was cooking; mounting a huge Richard Serra set up, Plunge, in California; doing the primary present of Jean-Michel Basquiat’s work in 1982; and exhibiting Frank Stella’s necessary “South African Mines” collection around the similar time. The Stellas, unpainted wall items that professional­trude as much as 8 ft, were not neces­sarily straightforward sells. Gagosian did promote them, nevertheless, for a whopping $85,000 each, and other people observed.

But L.A. was a small pond. As early as 1978 Gagosian was sustaining a loft area on West Broadway, by which he in­formally confirmed David Salle’s first work earlier than vendor Mary Boone did. The place was not essentially on the gal­lery circuit, however it was near enough to al­low collectors like developer Edward Minskoff and Rely Giuseppe Panza di Biumo to start stopping by to see paint­ings by Salle and the other essential works that Gagosian got here up with for display. He began spending increasingly time in New York, and in October 1985 he opened his first New York gal­lery on the nook of 23rd Road and Tenth Avenue, in a constructing that’s still owned by artist Sandro Chia.

In 1985, virtually out of thin air, he managed to pry some necessary paint­ings from numerous hotly desired col­lections, probably the most notable of which was that of Burton and Emily Tremaine. The Tremaines had assembled a serious group of up to date and trendy works, in­cluding Jasper Johns’ iconographic White Flag. Different dealers had been dancing around the Tremaines. Gago­sian was extra direct.

“I looked up their phone number from Connecticut information,” he says. “I of­fered them a lot of money for a Brice Marden painting. Mrs. Tremaine liked me on the phone; she thought I was fun­ny. Or maybe she liked the money I of­fered for the painting.”

Gagosian bought a number of works for the Tre­maines — together with Mondrian’s Victory Boogie Woogie — and was permitted to point out White Flag, however not sell it. Al­though he couldn’t have been too completely satisfied about not getting to promote the remainder of the Tremaines’ material, the results of the Tremaine show was prompt credibility.

Gagosian was hooked up to some relatively heavy baggage, including accusations of crude conduct and — worse, within the art world — of creating transparencies of art from books and magazines, the implica­tion being that he was offering work that was not his to promote. (Says Gagosian, “I don’t think I’ve ever actually done that. But in a funny way, so what? If someone wanted to look at a painting I was han­dling and this was the quickest way to get them an image, it would be legiti­mate. Any sophisticated collector would understand.”) However the baggage didn’t matter much. The Tremaines did. The exhibition of work from the Tremaine assortment was virtually extra essential than a single sale from it, since it pro­claimed Gagosian’s affiliation with the collectors, and, significantly, access to their holdings. Connections just like the Tre­maines are Gagosian’s inventory in commerce. (The Johns was later bought at Christie’s for an astonishing $7.04 million.)

By 1987 Gagosian was convinced New York was the place he needed to be full time. (“Why did I come to New York?” he says. “That’s like asking why a starlet goes to Hollywood.”) He closed the Los Angeles gallery and out of the blue the New York art world was dealing with a new drive in its midst.

“It’s amazing what he has accom­plished in such a short time,” says a New York collector. “Two or three years ago, Larry was after things like my Glenn Goldberg or Mark Dean. I sold him a piece by the Starn twins, but all that’s small potatoes to him now.”

In early 1989 Gagosian surprised everyone once more by opening not one however two New York galleries: one moderately imposing one on higher Madi­son Avenue and one other at 65 Thompson St., in Soho, in collaboration with vendor Leo Castelli, whom Gagosian had en­gaged in a genial mentor relationship. Up to now yr Gagosian has provided a string of essential exhibits at both spaces. Uptown, he’s exhibited Warhol’s “Most Wanted Men” and “Shadow Paintings” collection, early work by Rauschenberg, and Lichtenstein’s “Picasso” collection. Within the Castelli area, he’s proven such blue-chip work as early bronzes by Lichtenstein. Gagosian also lately took on the property of seminal artist Yves Klein, who died in 1962.

It’s not enough to have blue-chip chip ents; Gagosian wants blue-chip paintings to promote. He has his ways of getting them. This fall, in accordance with an art-world supply, Gagosian decided he needed to do some enterprise with a portray by Eric Fischl that belonged to a outstanding New York collector. The collector, in flip, needed a bit by Robert Ryman and was prepared to trade, but Gagosian didn’t have one. Understanding the collector can be visiting his gallery, Gagosian ap­proached one other collector who had a Ryman for sale. Collector quantity two, although, wouldn’t let his Ryman out of his house and not using a verify. Gagosian went to the house at 9 a.m., wrote a verify for the painting, and took it away. However by midday the primary collector arrived at the gallery and stated she was not interest­ed in a Ryman anymore. Gagosian well mannered­ly bid goodbye to the collector when she left, then immediately referred to as the Ryman owner and canceled the deal.

Though Gagosian denies a few of the details, contending that the Ryman came from Charles Saatchi and had been paid for by wire switch weeks earlier than, that is the sort of story that provides Gagosian his mottled status. Although his modus operandi just isn’t exactly unethical, a few of Gagosian’s more artistic practices have been referred to as into query. There are, in any case, conventions of dealing nonetheless in drive — although many say that Gago­sian’s affect on the artwork world has been both to affect it and drag it into the gutter. (Gagosian misplaced the Fischl to deal­er Mary Boone, by the best way.)

Detractors say that Gagosian has little actual association with any of his heaviest shoppers (except for Newhouse) but makes use of their names to advance his ca­reer. The extra money he makes from them, the extra huge money names he can appeal to. Asked whether or not Gagosian’s per­verse charisma is a think about his success, one supplier says, “All the people Gago­sian has associated with are people with power and position. They can’t afford to be naughty. So Go-Go is their bad boy, the renegade. They get vicarious plea­sure out of his antics, and if they make money and get great art through him, so much the better.”

But these bad-boy attributes typically work towards Gagosian. Last Might, when he wasn’t invited to a Sotheby’s recep­tion before the sale of the gathering of the late Edwin Janss, he’s stated to have referred to as the auction house’s modern division and showered an employee there with graphic expletives about Janss’ daughter Dagney, who had ap­parently been the one to exclude him from the dinner. This did nothing to win Gagosian his invite.

It’s been stated that Gagosian doesn’t care concerning the popularity of the supplier or collector, so long as there’s money to be made with art. Recently there was even a rumor circulating that Gagosian bought some work to South American drug interests. While straining credulity, the rumor takes Gagosian aback.

“Who told you that?” he says. Then he pauses. “It’s amazing to me that people don’t have anything better to do than make up gossip of this magnitude.”

So is it simply all the cash he’s mak­ing that spawns all this speak?

“Well, I’m not going to stop making money to squelch rumors,” Gagosian re­plies with a jagged little snigger, “but it isn’t in my nature to take myself that se­riously, and the attention seems a little unreal. I’ve seen this kind of thing un­wind some people, and I try to keep in mind that it has nothing to do with work; it’s a distraction.”

In the middle of his energy dealings, Gagosian has acquired most of the pow­er accoutrements of his greatest shoppers. He owns an enormous oceanfront house in the Hamptons (gotten in a partial trade for art with a California collector), as well as a snug place in Manhattan (a carriage house in the East 60s once owned by heiress Christophe de Menil). He likes huge automobiles — calling from the telephone in his limousine, he’s more likely to pause for a min­ute and yell impatiently on the driver — ­and large publicity. This fall alone, Gagosian’s identify appeared prominently in publications corresponding to Vogue, Tatler, Time, and The New York Occasions. Spy referred to as him “most hated in his field.”

Most of the time, Gagosian knows that appeal could be extra effec­tive than vitriol, which is proba­bly how he has managed his most astonishing feat thus far: charming his approach into the great graces of the grand previous man of New York art, Leo Castelli.

“Relationships are a matter of chemis­try,” Gagosian says. “You’re either re­pulsed or attracted. Leo and I really like each other.”

For the previous three many years, Leo Cas­telli has been probably the most powerful single human drive within the art world. On the mo­ment when Castelli walked down the shaky picket stairs to a cold-water flat on the edge of the monetary district in March 1957 and inadvertently came across the flags and targets of a younger artist named Jasper Johns, the artwork world as we all know it stirred into being. Castelli and his artists (Robert Rauschenberg, Roy Lichtenstein, and James Rosen­quist, in addition to Johns) made pop artwork within the ’60s, and he has added some selection newcomers to his sturdy unique secure. More than merely the first superdealer, Castelli has been credited with altering the best way America thinks concerning the art market. Now, like pop art, the market is a part of our vernacular.

Up to now few years, Castelli has slowed down, though even now, in his early 80s, he greets guests within the back room of his gallery with a chirpy howdy and a hand within the small of the again. Turned out in a wonderfully tailor-made Italian go well with, Castelli is a legend, and the individual in whose footsteps most Go-Go-watchers say Gagosian needs to comply with.

Castelli continues to be sharp — though many artwork aficionados assume that the only sign of Leo slipping is his current and rising affiliation with Larry Gagosian. Castelli is well-known for serving to younger deal­ers get started (like Deborah Sharpe and Pat Hearn), but his relationship with Ga­gosian includes a business partnership, which was unprecedented for Castelli.

“After Ileana [Sonnabend, Castelli’s ex-wife and a dealer herself], Larry is the closest person to me in the art world,” Castelli says. That’s the sort of statement that sends a chill into the hearts of those that find Gagosian’s strategies crude and worry he may be an­gling to take over the Castelli secure if and when Castelli decides to retire.

Gagosian and Castelli couldn’t be much less alike. Castelli is elegant, discriminating, a true connoisseur in the mould of turn-of­-the-century figures like Joseph Duveen and Daniel Henry Kahnweiler. Larry Ga­gosian, however, is flamboyant, restless – maybe the best way all dealers should be within the ’90s, if the market stays as heady as it’s now.

“A dealer isn’t just someone who sells pictures,” says a outstanding New York supplier. “The only thing Go-Go proves is that everyone has a price. He has made no contributions of his own, but has coasted on the work of other dealers.”

Castelli disputes this characterization. “Of two great paintings, Larry can de­termine what makes one greater,” he says.

Gagosian started visiting the Castelli Gallery several years ago, whereas nonetheless in enterprise in California. (His West Broad­method loft occurred to be throughout the street from the Castelli Gallery.) Immediately, he started insinuating himself with the grasp.

“Sometimes we would lose Larry in the gallery and find him browsing in the racks,” recollects Susan Brundage, Castel­li’s gallery director, who has labored for the supplier for 16 years. “One of the best things about Gagosian is that he does have a sense of humor. We’d have to say, ‘C’mon Larry, enough,’ before he’d stop going through our inventory.”

It was the Tremaine connection that had made Castelli first sit up and take notice of Gagosian. In response to gallery sources, the Tremaines didn’t go to Cas­telli with their material — much of which was by “his” artists — because they sim­ply weren’t keen on him, one thing that harm Castelli deeply.

Gagosian and Castelli act as if they’ve all the time been in each other’s lives, like family. Based on supplier Perry Ru­benstein, who lives and works at Gago­sian’s first New York premises, Gago­sian all the time woos the one that may give him what he needs.

“With Larry, it’s always a matter of what can you do for me right now,” he continues. “Gagosian’s capable of sit­ting at someone’s table for dinner, get­ting information he needs, and leaving without even saying good-bye.”

Susan Brundage and her sister Patty, who additionally works on the gallery, describe the relationship between their boss and Gagosian as one thing like a romance. When the younger vendor was making an attempt to ingratiate himself, he tendered infinite attention and flattery. There have been pres­ents for Castelli, together with a $7,500 Pa­tek Philippe watch; long lunches at Cas­telli”s favorite restaurant, Da Silvano; longer dinners at Odeon and 150 Woos­ter; innumerable telephone calls.

Leo, who likes to be courted (and really is likely one of the few art individuals deserving of such remedy), was gained over.

“You would have thought Leo was talking about a girlfriend,” Patty Brun­dage says of the early courtship days. “He talked about how Larry looked, the things he did, but didn’t say a word about his business acumen.”

Certainly, Castelli has been recognized to wax rhapsodic about Larry, speaking about his “distinctive, close-cropped looks” and how “no one else does things in such a grand style.”

“Suddenly Leo was calling Elaine de Kooning, to try and get Larry the es­tate,” says Susan Brundage.

Modern master Willem de Koo­ning continues to be dwelling but has Alzheimer’s illness. When he dies he’ll depart an es­tate wealthy in his work. (Elaine, an artist herself and now deceased, was the artwork­ist’s wife.) You might marvel why Castelli wouldn’t chase the de Kooning cache for himself, but he is still devoted to paintings recent from his artists’ studios; he’s never been an aficionado of the secondary mar­ket. Moreover, he appears to have a good time watching his younger associate make offers. (Gagosian, by the way, hasn’t yet gained the de Kooning property.)

“Not only is Larry the best dealer in the secondary market, but if he weren’t a dealer he would be a brilliant curator,” Castelli says. “The stories you hear about him seem unjustified gossip. Peo­ple don’t dare offer the prices he offers when he wants to acquire something, and then they complain that he gets all the material.”

Gagosian came alongside at simply the best time, Castelli says: “Art and money, to the degree that they are related, have turned the art world upside down. No one knows how to adequately deal with it. My great love was to detect not painters but movements; Larry’s is the secondary market. I wanted to be involved in the great flowering of the secondary market, and he gave me a way to do it.”

Asked if he thinks Gagosian can resist the attract of the first market, Castelli grows philosophical. “He will go into it,” he says, “but he’s biding his time. He would not be satisfied with lesser artists, and good ones are difficult to find.”

Typically, nevertheless, even these two get their alerts combined. In a flurry of telephone calls in the early fall, it seems they every bought the identical Lichtenstein bronze  — to an unidentified collector and to comedian Steve Martin, who had first dibs on it.

Those that first assume that Castelli utterly misplaced his marbles over Gago­sian ought to take a re-evaluation. Castelli has the opportunity to generate income with Larry with relatively little exertion on his half. Their gallery at 65 Thompson St. has virtually no overhead, and Gagosian pulls together the exhibits. True, the gal­lery has been primarily displaying Castelli artists — much, some say, to Gagosian’s chagrin, as a result of the arrangement limits his area — however then the Castelli identify, is nearly as good as gold.

”Leo has a historical past of dealing with peo­ple who’re universally disliked,” Susan Brundage says. “He gets a kick out of them. Before Larry, it was Doug Chris­mas [a rough-and-ready L.A. dealer] and Daniel Templon [a Paris dealer].

“As for Larry, he keeps the other vul­tures off. Everyone thought that Toiny [Leo’s late wife] would someday be in control. When she died, you wouldn’t be­lieve the people who descended on Leo. Leo admires Larry for being a wheeler­dealer, but I don’t think Leo’s so gullible that Larry can send him down the river. You have to remember there is a lot of envy in people’s talk about all this.”

On Madison Avenue, at the previous Sotheby’s premises, the Gagosian Gallery feels a bit like a personal fiefdom. A visitor ascends in an elevator separate from the one serv­ing the rest of the building. The doorways open on the sixth flooring to a reception desk flanked by the video cameras that give the master of the home a view from his workplace of who is arriving. The decor is modern and fashionable. Gagosian’s California area was as soon as characterised by a critic as having an atmosphere of “vaporized steel”; this additionally occurs to be the colour of Gagosian’s eyes.

Gagosian’s workplace is itself an virtually completely shaped sq., technicized clear by state-of-the-art Italian furni­ture, the partitions emblazoned with the most effective of art in all places: a Roy Lichtenstein ra­zor blade behind the desk, a three-di­mensional Frank Stella wall piece, Don­ald Judd’s stacks within the small room outdoors the door. Additionally in the workplace is an early, much-coveted, Coke-bottle green car-crash portray by Andy Warhol once owned by Si Newhouse, now the right­ty of a European collector.

“We talk almost every day,” Gagosian says of Newhouse. “He’s got a quick, in­telligent eye and the means to pursue a very intelligent approach to art. He loves looking and thinking. His art is not a bunch of trophies. If you’ve got a paint­ing that is tough, a bit off-center, Si Newhouse will see it.”

Why does he cope with Go-Go?

“Who knows?” Gagosian says. “May­be because I find pictures that he likes.”

Gagosian is impeccably dressed head to toe in dark Armani and graciously does not take telephone calls throughout a chat. However he could be abrupt — when asked concerning the Saatchi collection, for in­stance. The unloading of the gathering makes many artwork individuals nervous — nota­bly artists within the collection and the deal­ers who symbolize them. The truth that Gagosian is increasing the ground area of his gallery is a daunting signal: is he making room to deal with a full-scale Saat­chi hearth sale?

“With another exhibition room, I’ll have the flexibility to do two shows at a time,” he says matter-of-factly. “We’re also a little crowded as to storage and personnel, and this will solve the prob­lem.” He provides that presently he has no room to inventory the overflow of stock at a time when most people have hassle finding material.

More pointedly, then: is Saatchi sell­ing off his entire collection?

Go-Go is nearly sphinxlike.

“People lose the forest for the trees here. He loves his collection. Don’t for­get, it’s primarily the older work from the catalogs [of the collection] that he’s selling. They’re four or five years old. There’s been a tremendous amount of collecting since then.”

Gagosian has cause to guard the Saatchis, with whom he has cast a robust alliance. The story of how Go-Go made the alliance, at the very least as advised by Per­ry Rubenstein, is classic Gagosian.

“A friend of Peter Langer [a 57th Street dealer] had gotten out one paint­ing, Anselm Keifer’s Die Drei Nornen (Urd, Werdandi, Skuld), from the Saat­chi collection in late 1986 or early 1987,” Rubenstein says. “I went to see it, but I didn’t like it very much and it was overpriced.”

However then one other portray from the collection, a second Keifer, appeared.

“I suggested to Larry that we go look at it, perhaps consider going in on it as partners. We went — there was Larry in his dark coat, swaggering— and after walking in the door he was extremely quiet through the whole meeting. He just watched.”

Rubenstein and Gagosian didn’t just like the second Keifer, however they purchased a Cy Twombly together that day — and bought it, in accordance with Rubenstein, “very well.”

“At that time,” Rubenstein continues, “I took Pete Langer aside and said, ‘I trust you; any business yoµ do with Larry I expect to get part of.’ ”

But Gagosian had not been quiet for nothing. He had observed that not one but two paintings had now come down from Saatchi’s partitions, and he immediately grasped the state of affairs. Inside weeks, Ga­gosian apparently went alone to see Saatchi in London, to deliver the names of a few of the necessary collectors asso­ciated with him. He satisfied Saatchi that he was the man for the job and acquired a stranglehold on the Saatchi materials.

“You’ve got to hand it to him,” says Rubenstein with guarded respect. “He saw the chink in the armor and he went for it.”

Not surprisingly, Gagosian’s version pf the story about his selling Saatchi’s assortment differs from Rubenstein’s.

“I knew Charles for a long time,” Ga­gosian says. “I sold him a lot of things. He called me up in the summer of 1988, asked me if I remembered a certain painting [Go-Go wouldn’t say which one]. He asked me what it was worth; I told him. He asked me if I could get that sum for him; I said yes. That’s how that phase of our business relationship be­gan. If I had seen he was selling first, I certainly would have approached him.”

Gagosian talks about Saatchi as if he have been simply one of the boys.

“We’re about the same age, and we have a lot of interests in common,” he says, “like shooting pool and playing tennis.”

The place is Go-Go going? He may be nearer to representing artists immediately than anybody thinks. In current months, he has approached a number of artists, together with Brice Marden and David Salle, with invites to point out at his New York area. Salle, whose work Gagosian also confirmed in Los Angeles, is an previous pal who has been recognized to cross evenings with Gagosian at residence, or at a selection table at Barocco.

With Mary Boone, the primary supplier who at present represents Marden and Salle, Gagosian maintains an virtually pathological competitiveness. While he was still in Los Angeles, and presumably not a menace, Boone agreed to let Gago­sian present lots of her greatest individuals, however this fall, as Gagosian’s tried raids on her secure have accelerated, Boone has needed to keep her cool.

Boone has had her share of business issues with Go-Go. In three of the 5 California exhibits she did in tandem with him, she needed to sue to get paid.

Artist Brice Marden is one other story.

“Larry never made me a concrete of­fer,” says Marden, “but we talked and then I checked things out. He had said other artists were coming to the gal­lery — not that he lied, it just didn’t look like it was going to happen.”

Marden took the supply critically enough to have his lawyer think about approaching Gagosian with a want record of circumstances.

”I noticed that if Larry had stated sure to every thing, I might have needed to go,” Marden says, “though I was told that if I went there, people would say I did it for the money.”

He informed Boone about Gagosian’s over­tures — which, based on Marden, included some calumny about Boone — af­ter which she reportedly bolstered her association with the artist.

“Mary’s done a good job for me,” says Marden, “but let’s face it: if you want to know what’s going on that’s interesting, you go to Gagosian.”

Marden does have reservations, how­ever. “Even though I like Larry,” he says, “I feel his gallery is at this point more for big collectors than for artists. He had a Bouguereau there, a painting that I feel goes against everything a modern artist is about. He had it there to stay in good with Sly and didn’t under­stand why I took umbrage at its pres­ence. This doesn’t mean we’ve stopped talking, though. I didn’t say a definitive no, I said no for now.”

For her half, Boone will say solely that dealers, like artists, are judged on origi­nality and invention. “And I don’t think Larry has made this kind of contribu­tion,” she says.

Meanwhile, despite his adamant assertions that he goes to bed early and runs five miles several occasions every week, Go-Go’s bad-boy image stays robust. He continues to make offhand feedback that tend to attenuate his pretensions to greatness. He incessantly repeats one in every of his classics: “When women meet me, they either want to fuck me or throw up on me.”

So how do you read this man? Is he trustworthy? sleazy? sensible? simply lucky? Gago­sian does appear aware — even delight­ed — that his image is so colourful, partic­ularly that it reflects Massive Cash as much as Great Artwork.

“I think people like to read all this wheeler-dealer talk,” he reflects, “but what I am really concerned about is the quality of the exhibitions. Since I’ve been in New York, I think the shows that I’ve done have all been museum quality.”

At 65 Thompson St., Gagosian and Castelli soon shall be displaying bamboo sculpture by Japanese documentary di­rector Hiroshi Teshigahara (“a fanciful show during cherry-blossom season,” says Go-Go), an installation by Bruce Nauman, and new work by Frank Stella. Beginning this week at the Madison Ave­nue gallery, he shall be displaying never-be­fore-exhibited work by Cy Twombly from the “Bolsena” collection. And in Might, Gagosian plans to open, with Peter Brant, a large exhibition area at Broad­means and Prince, designed by Renzo Piano.

Will there ever be a show of the Saat­chi inventory? “I’m not sure,” says Gagosian with al­most self-conscious mystery, “but it is possible.”

As happened on the end of the final cen­tury, individuals appear to be in a palpably fin de siecle mode, scurrying to purchase — ­typically for an excessive amount of cash — parts of the culture they worry could also be over for good. Is Gagosian merely the purveyor of a passing time and place, or will his influ­ence be lasting?

“Give me a break,” Go-Go says with amusing, when requested concerning the legacy he may depart. “The important thing is how effective you are at the activity. You want to keep things interesting and you want to pay the bills.”

Is there something Gagosian want to see modified in the art market?

“That,” he says with a contact of evil, “is like asking Dante what he would change about the structure of hell.”