Josh Roth, who has served as the head of UTA Fine Arts since 2015, has died at age 40. Though a cause of death was not immediately specified by the agency, the Hollywood Reporter reported that a source close to Roth had indicated that the cause of death was “heart failure.”
“Josh was a dear man and a great colleague, and we are devastated by his loss,” Jim Berkus, UTA’s chairman, and Jeremy Zimmer, its CEO, said in a joint statement. “His friendships and contributions were deeply felt. He constantly inspired his colleagues and those he represented with his impeccable taste, thoughtfulness, creativity, and absolute dedication. Most importantly, Josh was a wonderful man—devoted to his family, kind in spirt, and generous in every way. UTA is heartbroken.”
Roth launched UTA Fine Arts in 2015 as a division of the larger firm United Talent Agency, which represents a variety of performers and entertainers, including the Oscar-nominated actress Frances McDormand, the rapper Post Malone, and the TV personality Anderson Cooper. Roth was the son of Steven Roth, who cofounded the talent agency CAA. UTA Fine Arts is specifically devoted to representing artists, and was initially regarded with suspicion for the ways it utilized Hollywood PR strategies to penetrate the art world. It currently represents Ai Weiwei, Rashid Johnson, Maurizio Cattelan, Sam Taylor Johnson, and Judy Chicago, among others.
In 2016, UTA Fine Arts launched an exhibition space that is not intended to “function like a gallery,” as Roth put it in an interview that year with the New York Times. The space first opened in Los Angeles’s Boyle Heights neighborhood, and it relocated to an Ai-designed gallery in Beverly Hills earlier this year. Among the artists to have had shows with UTA are Petra Cortright, Larry Clark, the Haas Brothers, Derrick Adams, and Austin Lee.
Before founding UTA’s fine arts division, Roth was an art lawyer who advised clients such as the galleries Venus Over Manhattan and Regen Projects. According to the Wall Street Journal, Roth also collected art, and owned pieces by Mike Kelley, Sam Durant, and Jonas Wood.