On West 24th Street one gets a fairly comprehensive snapshot of the Chelsea gallery scene, with giants like Gagosian and Mary Boone alongside smaller outfits on the street’s south side, like Freight + Volume, which two years ago took on a roommate to help pay the rent. Now another of that block’s smaller spaces, Ramis Barquet, is filing for bankruptcy.
The gallerist Ramis Barquet, who also filed for personal bankruptcy on June 28, founded the gallery in Mexico in 1987 before opening a space in Midtown in 1996, expanding its roster from specializing in emerging and established Latin American artists to include successful European artists who were not known in the U.S. Barquet expanded to West 24th Street in 2003, closing his 57th Street space five years later.
According to documents cited by The Deal (PDF), the gallery had done good business for years:
Over the past 12 years, the company has earned $15 million to $20 million a year, according to court documents, but sales and income have dropped substantially in recent years, and expenses have increased.
As a result, the gallerist slashed his own salary and made loans to the gallery amounting to $9 million.
Ramis Barquet reduced his salary substantially over the past few years, but, he said in court papers, “fell into the unfortunate habit of taking no specific salary but, instead, drawing discrete amounts to be charged to [his] account.” […] Ramis Barquet has provided periodic loans to the company to make up cash shortfalls, he said in court documents.In 2008, he loaned $2.6 million to the company, and in 2009, a further $2.2 million, with more loans made in 2010.
Remains to be seen how this will affect the seven artists that Barquet’s gallery represents—including recent Greater New York alum Rashaad Newsome. Barquet needs to provide additional information by October 26, at which time we’ll likely learn more about the challenges of running a mid-sized gallery during a recession.