When art-world heavyweights David Zwirner, a 34-year-old out of SoHo, and Iwan Wirth, a 29-year-old from Zurich, formed a partnership, it was appropriate that they bought fight promoter Don King’s East 69th Street townhouse to conduct their new gallery business in. They hired architect Annabelle Selldorf to design the $3.5 million space and former Christie’s and Sotheby’s contemporary-art expert Tracy Williams to direct the gallery. Though Zwirner and Wirth specialize in representing emerging artists, they pay the bills by dealing in Modern masters like Francis Picabia and Bruce Nauman. The first show at Zwirner & Wirth, by German painter Gerhard Richter, runs through April 22. But aside from the 1967 Kleiner Akt (pictured), sold for roughly $2 million just before the opening, only one of the nine works hanging is for sale, and it’s already on hold. Don’t let that fool you. Many other Richter paintings are being sold in the private offices upstairs. Little has changed, in other words, since the days when King operated out of this space. Whether it’s art or boxing, the real action is always hidden behind closed doors.
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