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True Color: San Francisco Billionaire Art Gallery (will be)


Alcatraz looms in the background and the Golden Gate Bridge lights up in the distance, and the owners of San Francisco’s great fortunes — some new, some old — are moved to Fort Mason, a former military base used as a West Coast Union battery during the Civil War.

The site is once again home to the city’s major annual art fair, named Fog, and often shrouded in veritable fog. Wednesday night is a gala preview where Gulf oil heirs like Vanessa Getty mingle with the city’s central bank Charles Schwab and tech billionaires — Zynga of Mark Pincus, ‘s Instagram Mike Krieger, ‘s Twitter Eve Williams. Art advisor Sabrina Buell did rounds on behalf of her clients, one of them being reported Larry Page, Google founder is currently valued around 119 billion dollars.

But do any of them actually buy the art? One could be forgiven for skipping an art fair like Fog, the annual one that takes place every January. Unlike its sister city in Southern California, Los Angeles, the Bay Area is not a global hub for art dealers across Europe and Asia. need to plant a flag. Gagosian used to have a gallery here. It is closed by early 2021.

Dealers who arrive in San Francisco in January have one thing in mind. According to the Wealth-X Billionaires Survey, this city of less than 900,000 people is home to 81 billionaires. (The census shows that London – home to more than 9 million people – has 71 billionaires.) And every art dealer in the world wants to convince these billionaires to become billionaire collectors.

“The question you are asking is, is the San Francisco art collector really? exist? ” speak According to Elliott, director of Ratio 3, the city’s most powerful conglomerate that has long been a go-to place to find up-and-coming artists to succeed. Hidden behind an unmarked black door on a Mission property with more popular burrito spots than all of the East Coast states combined, Ratio 3 has just launched a new 25-year-old program. Daisy May Sheff. The pieces are already sold out, with a long waiting list for collectors who haven’t been able to get their hands on it.

“You would think with 32 paintings we could please everyone, but…” Elliott said pausing, stepping through space.

“Well, that’s a good deal to have,” said Elliott. “Daisy, she’s only 25. There’s more work to be done.”

He added that about half of the works are sold to local collectors, many of whom sit on the boards of the city’s prestigious arts organizations: SFMoMA, de Young, Wattis, etc. SFMoMA has a particularly close relationship with the fair week, as it collaborates on the opening gala dinner, a rare arrangement — market forces and institutional forces often assume a separate church and state. But the presence of SFMoMA is not necessarily a great thing.

“You forget how conservative the board members of this museum are,” the director of a prominent gallery exhibiting at the fair told me.

Chara Schreyer is one of the city’s major collectors, but she is no longer on the board of SFMoMA. Instead, she made some promised gifts to the contemporary art museum in her other home, Los Angeles — that would be MOCA, which just made Johanna Burton new director after its art star leader Klaus Biesenbach decoded for Berlin last fall. Schreyer owns two homes in the Bay Area: one in the seaside town of Tiburon in Marin County, the other a sprawling mansion in San Francisco, as well as several homes in the City of Angels — and all Both play host to her next level, the multi-epoch-encompassing collection.

On Tuesday, Schreyer took a sunset tour of her artful Tiburon estate — featuring major works by Richard Prince, Frank Stella, Rachel Harrison, and more — and lead representatives from Gagosian and Hauser & Wirth through her vast home. Burton had been by her side the whole time. Schreyer, a world-class racer with a matching eye, led the group through her collection, pointing out where certain pieces are going where, as she puts it, “they take me out. get out of here in the first place.” A giant Christopher Wool The painting was a promised gift to SFMoMA. Some of the other works will instead go to Burton’s museum.

There are still illustrators committed to San Francisco. They remained loyal to customers stuck around the city and continued to spend money, even as it remained under lockdown longer than other American metropolises and an insignificant tech sector shrunk as a result. places like Austin.

While testing out many of the city’s epic offerings, it’s clear that despite the lockdown, locals have never really stopped spending money. The angler at Swan Oyster Depot told me the legendary seafood spot didn’t have to close on a weird day that was 2020.

“Everybody here is sitting here working and making money from their apartments, and they will come in every day and spend $500 on fish,” says Swan’s oyster eater, as I eat a $30 crab. la great, worth every penny.

A lifer, gallerist Jessica Silverman, last year moved from Tenderloin to a new space in Chinatown, surrounded by great spots in Sichuan and a short walk from the City Lights. She signed a 12-year lease.

Or take John Berggruen, who did it longer than anyone. Born in San Francisco, the son of collector Heinz Berggruen opened his gallery at the age of 27, in 1970. This week, he opened a show of outstanding work by another native son. , Peter Saul, organized with Adam Lindemann, collector and art dealer who founded Venus Over Manhattan in New York. Saul, 87, flew out of his home in upstate New York, and Lindemann and Berggruen welcomed him to a dinner near the gallery, at Sam’s Grill steak and martini restaurant.

Saul was in good spirits, sitting across from Berggruen and Lindemann and their guests at a high-temperature 40s alfresco dinner, everyone wrapped in blankets made by the gallery to commemorate the performance. .

“I was here two years ago, but I was going to Sonoma, and I drove through the city in a taxi,” Saul said. “And I thought, This is great. It’s great to be back here in this city.”

Saul looked past me to a line of people waiting to greet him.

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