ArtNowLA" />

After 80 Years, Marlborough Gallery to Close

A mainstay of the post-war era, Marlborough Gallery has announced the closing of its esteemed locations in New York, London, Madrid, and Barcelona. With this choice, a chapter spanning almost eight decades comes to an end. It represents a change in the environment of the art world and comes amid a backdrop of financial instability and leadership unrest within the illustrious institution. Once at the top of the gallery hierarchy, Marlborough has recently seemed a little bland in comparison to the mega-chains Hauser & Wirth and Gagosian.

Founded in London in 1946 by Frank Lloyd, a Jewish immigrant, and Harry Fischer, an Austrian rare books dealer, Marlborough Gallery quickly ascended to prominence as a leader of avant-garde expression, representing leading artists such as Francis Bacon, Lucian Freud, and the Jackson Pollock and Rothko estates, the gallery became synonymous with groundbreaking artistic innovation on both sides of the Atlantic.

Marlborough has recently been embroiled in a web of internal conflicts and financial challenges. Reports emerged in June 2020 of a bitter family feud between Gilbert Lloyd, Frank Lloyd’s son, and Pierre Levai, Frank’s nephew and longtime manager of the New York gallery. Lawsuits filed by both parties revealed staggering financial losses totalling $18.7 million between 2013 and 2019, casting a shadow over the gallery’s future.

The root of these disputes was in Marlborough’s ambitious expansion plans, which included acquiring the former Cheim & Reid (later Blain|Southern) building adjacent to its New York premises. However, the gallery’s board voted down the plans, leading to internal discord.

Despite efforts to resolve the conflicts and settle lawsuits, Marlborough Gallery’s financial woes persisted. UK Companies House filings for 2022 revealed a steep decline in turnover and gross profits, exacerbated by the departure of critical directors and artists. The gallery’s London operations saw turnover plummet by 35%, reflecting a turbulent period of instability and uncertainty.

In a statement released by the gallery, Franz Plutschow, a member of the Board of Trustees and long-time associate of the gallery’s founders, said, “After long and careful consideration, we decided that now is the time to sunset our nearly 80-year-old firm. We are profoundly grateful to all the artists who have been at the heart of Marlborough Gallery and integral to its storied legacy. We are indebted to our expert and dedicated employees, including those who will continue working with us as we wind down the business. As we do so, we are mindful that our inventory’s extraordinary breadth and depth testifies to the relationships formed over the decades with some of the most important artists of the modern era.”

Marlborough Gallery’s closure signals the end of an era for a business model that never had a high profile at big art fairs. The gallery’s extensive inventory, amassed over decades and estimated to be worth over $250 million, will be dispersed in the coming months and years. What will happen to its Albermarle Street premises and other properties owned by the institution in the future is a big question; with uncertainty surrounding ownership and ongoing negotiations for potential sales, the fate of these spaces hangs in the balance, a reminder of the longevity of any family-run gallery. Its closure underscores the industry’s broader issues, from navigating familial conflicts to the perils of overexpansion and financial instability.

Subscribe To Our Newsletter

Join our mailing list to receive the latest news and updates from our team.

You have Successfully Subscribed!