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Willem de Kooning and Donald Judd Estates Switch Galleries

Agents for the estates of Willem de Kooning (1904–97) and Donald Judd (1928–94) have changed the galleries representing their respective clients.

NEW YORK—Agents for the estates of Willem de Kooning (1904–97) and Donald Judd (1928–94) have changed the galleries representing their respective clients. The de Kooning estate was moved to Pace Gallery from Gagosian Gallery, while the estate of Judd switched to the David Zwirner Gallery from Pace.

According to a statement from de Kooning’s daughter, Lisa, “The decision to change galleries was a family decision. Both galleries are important. It was an honor to work with Larry Gagosian, and it will be the same working with Pace.” Representatives for Pace declined to comment on what material is in the de Kooning estate. A spokeswoman for Gagosian Gallery declined to comment on the matter.

Over the last 70 years, de Kooning and his estate have been represented by Betty Parsons, Charles Egan, Sidney Janis, Tibor de Nagy and Xavier Fourcade. De Kooning paintings appear at auction with regularity; the highest price achieved was $27.1 million (estimate: $10 million/15 million) at Christie’s in 2006 for the oil painting Untitled (XXV), 1977. Other top prices include $20.7 million (estimate: $4 million/6 million) for the oil on canvas Interchange, 1955, at Sotheby’s in 1989 and $19.9 million (estimate: $16 million/19 million) for the oil painting Untitled (XXIII), 1977, at Christie’s in 2007.

Judd had previously been represented by Leo Castelli and Paula Cooper. The Zwirner gallery’s interest in Judd’s work has been evident over the past several years, as it has reportedly purchased roughly 20 late pieces by the artist from his “Menziken” series of smaller sculptures. The Judd estate’s holdings include only a small number of major sculptures and far more paintings from the early part of Judd’s career, dating back to the late 1950s and early ’60s. “There’s enough work to keep David [Zwirner] interested,” said Flavin Judd, the artist’s son, adding that “we don’t plan to sell much work and only when we need to.” He noted that “we were very impressed with David—David’s spaces, David’s people—and the gallery expressed its willingness to do a lot of research for the catalogue raisonné that is in the works.”

The principal goal of the Judd foundation is the exhibition and care of the artist’s work. “A lot of the Judd market has been secondary,” said Pace director Douglas Baxter, noting that the “gallery will continue to be active in the Judd market” and that a one-person exhibition of 12 or more works by the artist has been scheduled for spring 2011.

The top public sale price to date for Donald Judd is $9.8 million (estimate: $5 million/7 million) for Untitled (77-41 Bernstein), 1977, a galvanized iron and blue Plexiglas sculpture that was sold at Christie’s in 2007. Among other top prices for the artist is the $7.4 million paid (estimate: $6 million/8 million) for an untitled stainless steel and red Plexiglas sculpture at Sotheby’s in 2007.

Pace and Gagosian galleries have recently been taking artists from each others’ stables. In February, Pace took photographer Hiroshi Sugimoto from Gagosian (the artist’s first solo exhibit at Pace, “Hiroshi Sugimoto: The Day After,” will be on view there Nov. 6–Dec. 24). Several months later, Gagosian took over representation of the Robert Rauschenberg estate from Pace. And just last fall, Maya Lin, another former Gagosian artist, had her first Pace exhibition of environmental installations.

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