After more than 20 years in business, Simon Lee Gallery in London has gone into joint administration with the business advisory firm BDO LPP. The news follows recent reports that the gallery was almost dissolved over a tax dispute that it had claimed was resolved.
A canary in the coal mine was artist Sonia Boyce’s decision last month to part ways with the gallery after only two years of representation. Along with George Condo and Christopher Wool, she had been one of the gallery’s star artists after winning the Golden Lion at the Venice Biennale last year.
The gallery had not responded to a request for comment by press time, but has posted a notice online and, per the on its door in London’s Mayfair announcing the joint administrators as Matthew Tait, Christine Francis and Danny Dartnall of BDO. Their appointment on July 11 came just one day before the gallery was due to have its second insolvency hearing this year. After becoming subject to a Companies House notice to be dissolved the business had its first hearing in April but last month, Simon Lee told the that the matter had been resolved.
Administration is a legal procedure that occurs when a business cannot pay its debts and is therefore insolvent. It generally aims at various measures like restructuring, selling off assets and reducing costs in the hope that the business may be able to keep operating.
“The joint administrators are working swiftly to review the available options for the company with a view to achieving the best outcome for creditors as a whole,” Tait told theadding that in the immediate term, the focus was to “safeguard the company’s assets,” including works held on consignment. “We appreciate that represented artists, and creditors more generally, will have concerns and we are in the process of collating and confirming relevant information,” he said.
Simon Lee Gallery was founded in 2002, and over the past two decades has become one of London’s most prestigious for contemporary art. In 2012, it opened a second space in Hong Kong and a third in New York in 2017, although this location was closed in 2020. It is not known whether the gallery will cease operations, or whether it plans to remain open during the administration process.
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