the pace gallery, a leading contemporary art gallery, has hired a new General Counsel as it expands its digital offerings. The gallery, which has offices around the world, cast Halie Klein in the role. Prior to her new position, Ms. Klein was an attorney at law with the law firm of Willkie Farr & Gallagher in New York.
As an attorney in private practice, Ms. Klein advised Pace Gallery as a client. She was part of the legal team that advised Pace Gallery on their joint venture sale of financier Donald Marron’s art collection. After his death in 2020, his extensive collection was valued at over $300 million. The law firm was asked to represent Donald Marron’s estate in the sale of the pieces. This project introduced her to Pace Gallery from the client side and ultimately helped her land the role of General Counsel.
Klein joins the gallery’s expansion into Digital Art and NFT Realm
“Your move comes amid Pace’s plans to expand into the realm of digital art and non-fungible tokens, or NFTs, with several ongoing projects in this area,” said Marc Glimcher, CEO of Pace Gallery. Glimcher can look back on a long career as a dealer and is regarded as the ruler of the international art scene.
Led by Glimcher, Pace Gallery accepts cryptocurrency payments for all digital and physical artworks. “I am a crypto person. I’ve had crypto for a while,” Glimmer commented.
Although Pace Gallery is headquartered in New York City, it operates worldwide. It has eight locations worldwide: New York, London, Hong Kong, Palo Alto, Seoul, Geneva, East Hampton and Palm Beach.
Pace Gallery is a modern and contemporary art gallery representing more than 70 artists and estates. Founded in 1960 by Arne Glimcher, father of current CEO Marc Glimcher, the gallery has built an international reputation. Additionally, it maintains decades-long relationships with artists such as Mark Rothko, Barbara Hepworth, and Alexander Calder.
Record digital art sales can transform the business
Consider prominent art galleries and artists digital art and NFTs to be a transformative force that could reshape the art business. Therefore, traditional players in the art world want to stay current.
The world’s largest auction houses posted record sales in 2021. Christie’s reported sales of $7.1 billion. Christie’s rival Sotheby’s reported sales of $7.3 billion. Sotheby’s noted that 2021 was the best-selling year in its 277-year history. Meanwhile, small auction house Philips was having a breakthrough year, reporting sales of $1.2 billion.
“Our customers are not agnostic to the broader economic context, but they are driven by passion – and they now know we can operate well despite uncertainty,” said Guillaume Cerutti, CEO of Christie’s. “Higher inflation also helps us because it makes people want things like art that don’t go down in value. That makes our market resilient.”
NFTs captured a sizeable share of high-end sales, although they recently caught mainstream attention in early 2021. The craze was sparked by Christie’s sale of artist Beeple’s digital art collage as an NFT for $69 million.
NFT sales accounted for $150 million, or 8% of contemporary art sales in 2021. Philips found it found buyers for every NFT it put up for sale, and many sales went into the millions. Sotheby’s completed its first NFT sale for $16 million in April 2021 Nice goal, an online auction platform for NFTs. In October, Sotheby’s launched its own marketplace called NFT Sotheby’s Metaverse.
Several prominent art galleries are hoping to acquire NFTs for their collections, including Pace Gallery, Acquavella Galleries, and Gagosian Gallery. In August 2021, New York City-based Acquavella Galleries made a major investment in NFT platform MakersPlace.
Private collectors attempt to showcase NFT art purchases
Many private art collectors intend to display their NFT art purchases on wall-sized LED screens in their homes. Collectors who have spent millions on digital art purchases are hoping to find ways to showcase them beyond tiny phone screens. Many explore creative frameworks. For example in New York Infinite Objects builds displays that enclose NFT art in box-like structures. These frames surround screens that project NFT art videos.
Wide range of legal topics for new General Counsel
In her new role, Ms. Klein will need to keep up to date with the latest legal developments related to NFT. This emerging area of law touches on many intellectual property issues related to copyright and licensing. As General Counsel of an international art gallery, she will be exposed to a wide range of legal issues, including trust and probate law, commercial law, litigation, real estate law and anti-money laundering regulations.