Perry Rubenstein (1954-2022) – Artforum International

Perry Rubenstein, a gallerist known for his incredible ability to predict the art world’s next hot spot, as well as being jailed for robbery, died July 21 at his Los Angeles home at the age of sixty. eight years. His ex-wife, Sara Fitzmaurice, confirmed his death, which she cited as due to natural causes. Rubinstein was one of the first gallerists to set up shop in Manhattan’s Chelsea neighborhood, now well known as an arts district, and set his sights on Los Angeles before most of his peers. Although Los Angeles eventually became an arts hub attracting blue-chip galleries, major fairs, and the mega-wealthy buyers who attended them, Rubenstein failed to make it there with his own gallery and instead found himself in prison after being sued by clients for funds he had embezzled. to try to keep this business afloat.

Perry Rubenstein was born on January 15, 1954 in Philadelphia. After earning a bachelor’s degree in history from Pennsylvania State University, Rubenstein traveled across Europe before being spotted in Milan by up-and-coming designer Gianni Versace. Rubenstein modeled for several years in Europe and Africa for clients such as Armani, Valentino, Versace and French and Italian Vogue, during which time he developed an appetite for collecting art, particularly that of emerging Italian artists. He proved to be a keen judge of quality, and on his return to the United States in the 1980s he found he had an extremely valuable collection, which included the early works of stars such as Sandro Chia, Francesco Clemente and Enzo Cucchi.

Rubenstein opened his first gallery on Prince Street in SoHo in 1989; it moved to Chelsea in 2004, showing the work of young, cutting edge artists such as Robin Rhode and Amir Zaki as well as famous artists such as James Lee Byars, Roy Lichtenstein, Julian Schnabel and Andy Warhol. In 2011, he moved to Los Angeles, then considered somewhat peripheral in the art world, opening a 9,500 square foot gallery at 1215 North Highland Avenue. In Los Angeles he said Museum shortly after his arrival there, “There is space, interludes, passages, traffic, and the possibility of being alone in your garden or your car. It’s a more contemplative way of thinking about things; you choose to come to one gallery per destination. When you are at the gallery you will invariably spend 45 minutes because to get to another one requires the next stop with some time and distance in between. We see enormous quality, much less quantity.

Despite hosting exhibitions of work in his new gallery by heavyweights such as Shepard Fairey, Mike Kelley and Helmut Newton, Rubenstein soon found himself in dire straits, ahead of many on his list. . In 2012, he tried to extricate himself from the situation by adding a last-minute commission of $20,000 to the price of a work by Takashi Murakami he was selling on behalf of collector Michael Salke at the Eli and Edythe Broad. Foundation. Displeased, Salke sued and in the process learned that Rubenstein had extracted nearly $195,000 more from the Broad Foundation than he had brought Salke, and had silently kept the proceeds for himself- same. Shortly thereafter, former Disney magnate Michael Ovitz sued Rubenstein over two works by Richard Prince, one of which the collector said Rubenstein had sold without his permission for an appallingly low price, and the other he never sold at all, although Ovitz believed he did and did not deliver the proceeds.

The Salke and Ovitz lawsuits were initially settled, and Rubinstein filed for bankruptcy in 2014, with debts of $5.4 million and assets of just $1.2 million, mostly in the form of artwork. . The two collectors filed suit, and Rubenstein was arrested in 2016 on three counts of embezzlement and grand larceny. He did not contest two of the charges in March 2017 and in May of that year was sentenced to six months in a cushy ‘pay to stay’ prison, far longer than he would have been required to serve in a state or county prison. if he hadn’t chosen to pay $100 a day to be incarcerated in a private institution.

After his release, Rubenstein acted as an art consultant to collectors and wrote a memoir of his early years, which remains unpublished.

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