Boone came to New York in 1970 after graduating from the Rhode Island School of Design. She met the artist
at Hunter College, where she studied art history, and Benglis found Boone a job at Bykert, a gallery on East 81st Street run by Benglis’s boyfriend at the time, the writer and performer Klaus Kertess. The gallery was home to major artists such as
, and though Boone was just 19 years old, Kertess had her take God-like collectors like Victor Ganz to studio visits with the gallery’s artists (besides Kertess, Boone was the only other employee).
Kertess’s gallery fell on hard times, and in October 1975, Boone was let go. She dealt privately for a few years before convincing seven backers to fund her own gallery space. Boone traded the Upper East Side for the scruffier SoHo, and in April 1977, she opened a space on the ground floor of 420 West Broadway—right below Leo Castelli, who was, at the time, the most influential contemporary art dealer
Among the first artists she signed was Julian Schnabel, a young, unknown artist—he was working as a line cook at a restaurant—but one who was already extremely confident in himself. After Boone saw his work for the first time, Schnabel called her on the phone.
“The subtext of the conversation was, I’d better show him because he’s the next best thing to Rembrandt and if I didn’t, he was going to show with Holly Solomon,” she told New York magazine decades later, referring to another SoHo dealer. “Which was probably the thing that drove me the most. I said fine. What do you say at a time like that?”
Schnabel had his first solo show in February 1979, with works on offer for $3,000 to $3,500, or about $11,000 to $13,000 today. It was the first time that Castelli, who was right upstairs from Boone, took notice of the young dealer.
“This was the coup de foudre!” Castelli told Anthony Haden-Guest in his book True Colors, a definitive take on the contemporary art market’s explosion in the 1970s and ’80s. “Like when I went to see Jasper [Johns] in ’57 or [Frank] Stella in ’59. I went in and I saw the clay paintings. And I was just bowled over.”