Art Meets Luxury Lifestyle in Gallery’s Sunny New Location

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MAHÓN, Spain — Total wealth held by billionaires, More than $10 trillion highIt is also an epic time for luxury lifestyle tourism.

only days later Virgin Galactic takes Richard Branson on an interstellar journey, unlikely art Center It opened Saturday on the Spanish islet Isla del Rey off Menorca – bringing contemporary art lovers together to celebrate the latest project by Swiss art gallery Hauser & Wirth.

Abandoned after serving as a military hospital in the 1960s, the tiny island has traditionally not been a wealthy collector’s attraction, but Hauser & Wirth is determined to change that. The international mega gallery is rapidly expanding its core business, offering its clients the one-of-a-kind lifestyle experience that comes from visiting a remote, unique place.

Dominated by its 18th-century hospital, the islet is located in the middle of the Mediterranean’s largest natural harbor, a 15-minute boat ride from Mahón, the capital of Menorca. Hauser & Wirth leased some of the islet land from a local volunteer foundation that has been trying to restore the hospital for nearly two decades.

Founded in 1992 by Iwan Wirth, the Swiss gallery sought approval from local Spanish authorities; his wife, Manuela Wirth; and his mother, Ursula Hauser – invited a delegation from Menorca to visit another of his projects, Somerset, England. The gallery has transformed the little-known village of Bruton into an arts destination with Hauser & Wirth Somerset. Hauser & Wirth spokesperson Chloe Kinsman said the complex, which opened in 2014, had attracted more than 110,000 visitors in the year before the pandemic.

Developed along similar lines, Hauser & Wirth Menorca features a gallery as well as a 16,000-square-foot art center surrounded by a landscaped garden by Dutch designer Piet Oudolf, dotted with sculptures by artists such as Louise Bourgeois, Eduardo Chillida, and Joan Miró. shop and restaurant.

Retired Spanish general Luis Alejandre, whose chairman Isla del Rey volunteer foundationsaid Hauser & Wirth invested about 4 million euros, or about 4.7 million dollars, in his project.

Hauser & Mahón mayor Héctor Pons said Wirth Menorca is “the kind of project we’ve been looking for for a long time”. Noting that Menorca is already a popular yachting destination, he added that it will attract more luxury visitors to the region.

But Pons noted that Hauser & Wirth’s Somerset project has created a local property jam there and the gallery’s arrival has already impacted the housing market in Menorca. “We’ve seen a noticeable increase in sales to foreigners looking for secondary housing,” he said.

But Swiss dealers said the Menorca center should be owned by the locals so visitors can reach it on a private ferry ride, and entry to the site is free.

The Menorca arts center opens a year behind schedule and at a time when the pandemic continues to cast a shadow on tourism. On Monday, the same day Hauser & Wirth opened its doors to the public, UK restarts quarantine for travelers returning from Menorca and Spain’s other Balearic Islands, following the recent increase in Covid cases.

For the special opening last weekend, Hauser & Wirth invited about 500 people. “We would love to celebrate more,” Iwan Wirth said in an interview. But we don’t want this to be Ibiza,” he said. “This isn’t going to be a party island.”

“The Big Four” mega galleries – Hauser & Wirth, Gagosian, White Cube and Pace – in the last decade, whether Hong Kong, the Hamptons, Seoul or St. Moritz, Switzerland, they set up branded branches wherever wealth is made or spent.

Among these mega galleries “Hauser & Wirth led the way by aggressively expanding her program to include outstanding female and Black artists.” Clayton Pressis a New Jersey-based collector who also teaches at New York University.

Opened with a show by the Menorca center Mark Bradford, a prominent Black artist from Los Angeles first exhibited at Hauser & Wirth’s Zurich gallery in 2014. For the Menorca show, “Masses and MovementsBradford has produced a series of paintings and sculptures based on 16th-century maps that deal with topics such as immigration and the legacy of colonialism.

In an interview, Bradford said that he initially turned down Hauser & Wirth’s offer to exhibit in Menorca, especially given that he was unlikely to travel from the United States to oversee the set up of the show.

But he said he was so excited that Spain changed its mind after allowing vaccinated Americans to enter the country. He held a workshop with local art students in Isla del Rey in June and works produced from the session were included in the show.

Wirth said in an interview that all of Bradford’s work was pre-sold to institutions before the Saturday opening.

“Hauser & Wirth is very good at getting institutions to buy their work, and it’s a huge draw for artists,” he said. Wendy Jeweleris an art consultant based in London.

In May, the gallery was exhibited for the first time Guyana-born British painter Frank Bowlingwho in october Switched to Swiss dealer From the Hales Gallery in London. Gallery spokesperson Kinsman said Christina Quarles, Cindy Sherman and Gary Simmons have also joined the Hauser & Wirth barn in the past 12 months. Hauser & Wirth now represents 93 artists or their properties, he added.

Wirth said the family business stands out among other major galleries because of its decentralized business model. “After the war, American galleries dominated the art world in a New York-based way, and their locations were outlets,” he said. “Our locations are not selling points: they are managed and organized locally.”

The Wirths also has a separate accommodation business called. art farm, which is also expanding. Artfarm opened in 2019 Fife Arms A hotel near the British royal family’s Balmoral Castle estate in Braemar, Scotland. Artfarm now plans to convert Audley pub in central London, a protected heritage site converted into a restaurant and a private club. New Jersey-based collector Press said boutique hospitality businesses like Artfarm are likely “doing more than just contributing to revenue to build brand awareness for their galleries and artists.”

Wirth said sales of Hauser & Wirth fell nearly 30 percent during the pandemic last year, but he and his wife have plans for further expansion, with Paris and Asia as potential targets. He said that they prefer to explore their own venues rather than responding to numerous investment offers.

“We are now being reached out on a monthly or weekly basis by a company or a building or a mountain hut or whatever,” Wirth said. “Are we going to double in the next five years? I don’t think so, but there could be a few strategic locations and a few more surprises.”

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