The Art of Larry Gagosian’s Empire

Larry, Jean-Michel Basquiat (1985)

One of Gagosian’s particular talents is conjuring complex, chesslike transactions that offer elements more enticing than cash. “He’s like a block trader,” says collector and Blackstone chairman, CEO and co-founder Stephen Schwarzman, referring to the financial practice of making high-risk, fast-moving private deals on large quantities of shares. “He’s in the matching business.” When Schwarzman, for example, was seeking a rare Twombly “blackboard” painting for his apartment, “Larry found someone in Korea who owned a painting and found another painting that was larger and more important,” Schwarzman says. “So they sold their painting and bought another from Larry. That’s a classic Larry Gagosian execution—where everyone’s happy and Larry makes tons of money.”

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