Gray died in his sleep at home on May 16th, according to a statement circulated by a representative of the gallery. His eponymous Richard Gray Gallery now has two locations in Chicago and a New York outpost on Madison avenue. But Gray began humbly in 1963 when he took $25,000 to New York to assemble an initial group of works—including pieces by Willem de Kooning, Arshile Gorky, and Fernand Léger—to offer back in his hometown. In the years that followed, Gray put together an enviable stable of artists, which currently includes the likes of Magdalena Abakanowicz, Jim Dine, David Hockney, Rashid Johnson, Alex Katz, Jaume Plensa, John Stezaker, and fellow Chicagoan Theaster Gates.
Outside of his gallery, Gray played a major role in the development of the Chicago cultural scene. Among other roles, he served as a trustee of the Art institute of Chicago, which, in 2008, opened a wing in his and his wife Mary’s honor that features prints and drawings from their collection. In an interview the same year with the Archives of American Art, Gray was both matter of fact about his advanced age and his commitment to stay involved with the community he helped foster for as long as possible. “The reality is, sooner or later—but not so much later—it's all going to be all over for me, and I accept that. I know it. It doesn't change one iota my ability to continue, every day, to be active and involved and committed, to gain from everything around me, what people are doing—artists, musicians, family,” he said.
The gallery will continue to be run by Gray’s son and longtime collaborator Paul, as well as Andrew Fabricant and Valerie Carberry.