End of an Era: Marlborough Gallery Set to Close

Marlborough Gallery Closing
Marlborough Gallery London. Source: Marlborough website

One of the pioneers of the mega gallery phenomenon, Marlborough, boasting a history spanning 78 years and locations in London, New York, Barcelona, and Madrid, is set to close its doors in June.

Established in London in 1946, Marlborough gained recognition for its astute deals and groundbreaking exhibitions during its early years. Frank Lloyd and Harry Fischer were described as the driving forces behind the business, while Lord Somerset played a prominent behind-the-scenes role.

During the 1950s, Marlborough gained prominence through successful exhibitions of Juan Gris, establishing itself as a vibrant art space in London. Its association with Francis Bacon and the decision to expand to New York in 1963 positioned it as one of the pioneering “mega galleries.” However, its reputation suffered in the 1970s due to a scandal involving Mark Rothko’s estate, leading to legal issues and allegations of tampering with evidence.

The Marlborough Gallery faced extensive deliberation by the board of trustees before deciding to close this June. The gallery struggled to adapt to changes in the art market and faced internal conflicts. The decision follows a period of internal turmoil, including the dismissal of its president, Max Levai, and lawsuits between Levai and the gallery.

In June 2020, the New York operations were reportedly shut down due to a family feud involving Lloyd and Levai, resulting in lawsuits revealing losses of $18.7 million between 2013 and 2019. Three directors, Frankie Rossi, Geoffrey Parton, and John Erle-Drax, departed Marlborough, along with Mary Miller who resigned in August 2022. The company faced uncertainty regarding its future ownership at that time.

Despite settling lawsuits and keeping the New York space open, the gallery cited the inability of an outside board to manage personal artist relationships as a primary reason for closure. The gallery plans to sell its properties and warehouses in London, New York, and Madrid as part of the closure process. The value of the gallery’s inventory has been estimated at $250 million.


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