David Zwirner laid off nearly 20 percent of its employees.
David Zwirner's 20th St. location in New York City. Photo by Jason Schmidt. Courtesy David Zwirner.
David Zwirner laid off nearly 20 percent of its workforce across all six of its locations ahead of a projected 30 percent drop in sales by the end of the year due to COVID-19. These layoffs amount to nearly 40 employees in New York, London, Paris, and Hong Kong, with a majority coming from departments that manage events, installation, and art fairs—all of which have come to a screeching halt in recent months.
In a statement, gallerist David Zwirner told ARTnews:
We avoided layoffs until July 1 because I wanted to understand how business has changed through the first two quarters of 2020. Now, close analysis of our business over the last six months has brought to light profound changes that I believe will not revert to the old normal until there is a vaccine or treatment. [. . .] The staff reductions are a function of the changed nature of our business and the near total disappearance of traditional workloads in certain departments. This is unprecedented territory for the gallery, and I will help our former colleagues through this period as much as possible, including providing health insurance for the next six months, until the end of the year, given that this pandemic is nowhere near under control.
Zwirner’s layoffs are hardly unprecedented as commercial spaces and cultural institutions around the world continue to suffer the financial blows brought on by the global pandemic. Already in April, Pace Gallery furloughed a quarter of its New York work force. Then in May, a survey conducted by the Art Dealers Association of America found that galleries across the U.S. project a 73 percent loss in overall gross revenue for the second quarter of 2020 due to COVID-19.