London Art Gallery Scene 2015 Gagosian Mayfair gallery nearing completion advised by Simon Korn.
There are an ever growing number of art dealers and gallerists who have chosen London to open new galleries or supplement their existing presence in other countries.
Too many property agents see the gallery market as ripe for abuse and provide very poor advice, as galleries are only too eager to take premises without the agent fully advising their client on the terms of the transaction.
Galleries are often at a disadvantage where landlords would prefer to see a known retailer taking their space and consequently the ill-advised gallery has had to pay inflated rents/premiums in order to secure space. This is where the experienced agent can be most useful by showing the landlord how beneficial a gallery tenant can be to their investment and emphasizing that diversity in tenant representation is a positive for their portfolio.
Galleries will most often make a single move in a 10 year cycle and so obtaining the best premises in terms of size, layout and location are of paramount importance – but equally ensuring the clauses regarding service charge, obligations and dilapidations can be crucial in achieving a successful agreement.
Mayfair has become the foremost location for galleries to open with a number taking whole buildings. However in the last few years the neighbouring districts of Soho and Fitzrovia/Noho have seen a number of galleries open, looking for an alternative to the high Mayfair rents and/or looking for an alternative atmosphere.
Rent levels have also pushed a number of the smaller galleries who cannot afford the “sexy” ground floor premises to seek upper floor office suites and convert that for gallery use. With the galleries continuing to focus on the generosity of ceiling height, access (people and artwork) and light (with everyone looking for the best in natural light) as the three most important factors when considering suitable premises.
The relationship between professional property agent and gallerist is not one that is alien to the gallery, as it is often very similar to the relationship that they will share with their collectors. Getting to know the collector, what they want, what their budget is, trusting that the professional is giving the right advice and the speed at which they want to acquire are all transferrable to the relationship between gallery and agent.
London offers a wide diversity of spaces, each being used by different types of gallery operator and the type of art they wish to promote – from the industrial to the town house and from the penthouse to the ground floor space – but London comes with an abundance of problems to be overcome before the right premises can be found. Demand is high not just from other galleries but also from other uses whether they be ground floor retail or first floor offices and consequently the amount of available space can be restrictive resulting in a shortage of options and rising rents. So finding the correct space to meet the needs of the business is something that everyone should take time over and using a professional adviser can reduce the pressure and keep the gallery at the front of any queue forming from the institutional landlords.
Even the traditional landlord has now changed. Whereas vast swathes of Central London was owned by the large Institutions and property companies; the “billionaire” landlord is now buying many of those properties and do not have the same care and concern for their tenants and the way they look after them, so it is not just the property to consider but who your landlord is.
Some of the largest galleries in the world have taken new space in London over the last few years such as Gagosian, Pace, Marion Goodman, White Cube, David Zwirner, Skarstedt and S:2 from Sotheby’s to mention only a few, let alone the many smaller galleries that have followed them.
London now sits clearly alongside New York as the leading cities of the commercial art world and with every new entrant of expansion – London cements its reputation as a place of creative industry and commercial opportunity.