NEW YORK—Phillips de Pury & Company has announced a partnership with London’s Saatchi Gallery that it says will allow the gallery to drop its admission charge of £9.75 ($20) to become the “first completely free, major contemporary art museum in the world.” The Saatchi Gallery and Phillips de Pury’s interactive Websites will be linked. Roughly 60,000 artists and art students display their art on the gallery’s Website, which, it says, receives more than 40 million hits per day.
Saatchi took the initiative in proposing a deal, Phillips chairman Simon de Pury told ARTnewsletter: “We’re very, very excited about it. I think the new building is going to be spectacular with all its space. The free admission will ensure that a much wider audience gets to see the collection.”
The opening of the new, expanded Saatchi Gallery, on King’s road in Chelsea, is scheduled for early 2008 and will allow for the creation of an additional 20,000 square feet of space on the top floor. In making the announcement, Phillips estimates that, as a result of the subsidy, annual attendance at the gallery will grow from the present number of approximately 600,000 visitors a year to more than a million.
Although the financial terms of the agreement are confidential, Phillips points out, the admission subsidy “requires substantial investment and will certainly be one of the largest sponsorship deals in the art world.” Though it is not stipulated in the partnership agreement, the Saatchi Gallery will use Phillips when selling works at auction: “They would naturally return the loyalty and support we have shown in enabling the Saatchi Gallery to be free for all exhibitions,” a Phillips spokeswoman said.
Charles Saatchi said he was “thrilled” about the new partnership and expressed confidence in the auctioneer. “I have tremendous admiration for Phillips de Pury because of their single-minded commitment to contemporary art,” Saatchi noted, “and I am certain that over the coming years we will see them grow into a major force in this area.”