As the mega-galleries continue to battle for market share, Gagosian, most often cited as the world’s largest gallery, is beefing up its technology team. Today the gallery shared exclusively with ARTnews that it has hired as a part-time senior adviser Sebastian Cwilich, the co-founder of Artsy.
Back in January, Cwilich left his position as Artsy’s president and chief operating officer. He had been with the company he created with Carter Cleveland for nine years.
Gagosian’s tech department is a relatively recent addition to the gallery, the result of its hire last year of a chief technology officer in Gareth O’Loughlin, formerly the vice president of technology at Casper, the mattress startup.
“Gareth and Sebastian are both leaders in the field, with a broad range of skill sets and unique perspectives on technology, business strategy, and operations,” Larry Gagosian, the gallery’s founder, told ARTnews in a statement. “They will be great additions to the gallery, enhancing and expanding our innovative work.”
Outside his dealings at the gallery, Gagosian was one of the first backers of Artsy, along with Russian collector Dasha Zhukova, a fixture of the ARTnews Top 200 Collectors list, and Airbnb founder Joe Gebbia.
“I’m thrilled to be working with Larry and the talented team at Gagosian,” Cwilich wrote to ARTnews. “The gallery has a clear track record of innovation that sets the pace for the rest of the industry: from international expansion, to museum-quality non-selling exhibitions, to publications and online viewing rooms, to more recent moves like hiring a CTO and Larry launching a new standalone advisory business. As art industry change accelerates, I’m confident Gagosian is well-positioned to build on this track record and continue innovating and leading the industry. I’m looking forward to supporting Larry and the team in those efforts.”
Gagosian is one of the few galleries in the world that operates on such a large scale—with numerous points of entry including a shop, restaurants, a website, and 17 galleries around the world—that it can benefit from using large amounts of data to help guide its strategy. (Think Moneyball.)
O’Loughlin, who is based in New York, described the ways in which he is implementing technology within the gallery as “both operational and strategic.” Pointing out that the gallery “already has a very big capability on the content side,” he said that he is focused on “what we can be doing for collectors, artists, and staff. Listening to their needs, and what would make their experience better. Looking at anywhere that technology could have an influence.”
Over the past year, Gagosian has been experimenting with online viewing rooms timed to major art fairs—the most recent one, during Art Basel Hong Kong, was devoted to a single work, an Albert Oehlen painting that reportedly sold for $6 million, besting the artist’s auction record. But the new department is equally dedicated to using technology to enhance internal operations through programs like a customized art database.
Sam Orlofsky, a longtime director in Gagosian’s New York headquarters, has been closely involved in such initiatives at the gallery, including the online viewing rooms, and has been working closely with O’Loughlin. “I’m interested in making the business as successful and productive as possible, both for Larry and for the artists,” Orlofsky told ARTnews. “I try to keep an open mind, looking at how other fields are evolving and seeing if there are ways that our field can evolve in similar fashion. Luckily I’m at a place that supports that.”
Like Orlofsky, O’Loughlin is on the gallery’s recently formed 24-member advisory board.