You are in a lucky position, being able to introduce people to art. What aspects of your job do you like most?
I like to educate people on art. So many people have never been introduced to art, and it’s fun to watch them take it on as either a hobby or collector.
What is a typical day in the life of your job?
I wake up around 7 a.m., turn my Blackberry on and face emails, go off to meetings or do what I have to do. There is zero routine in my job. It’s a fun job. What I do every day, and even in my sleep, is think and try and come up with new ideas. That’s what takes up most my work day.
How were you first introduced to art?
A friend of mine asked me to come and visit another friend’s art gallery and my response was: “As if I would go visit an art gallery.” He convinced me to come, and from then on, I was fascinated — the guy tried selling me an Alexander Calder gouache [Italian-style watercolor painting], and from that day on, art became an addiction.
Is there a particular painting, show or artist that made you want to follow a career in art?
Alexander Calder gouache paintings was the first type of art I did a financial transaction with, and from there, it made me learn and become interested with the financial side to the business. I realized I wanted to do my own art shows, but finding my first artist was the hardest challenge. I had no credentials and had never worked in the art world. To find someone to work with me was really hard. My close mate, Raphael Mazzucco, gave me the first opportunity to do a show for him, so I pretty much owe my career to him.
What is your favourite art gallery in Los Angeles and New York? Any favourite art galleries in Australia?
My favourite gallery in Los Angeles is Prism — there’s no other gallery like it in LA. In New York, it was Deitch in Soho. It’s now closed because Jeffery is now head of MOCA in LA. Australia? I have no clue, but I was really impressed with the show Tim Olsen did for Phillip Hunter — I think Phil will go to the top in the Australian art market.
In your experience, what are the elements that make for a great exhibition?
It has to be the wow factor of the venue, such as Palazzo Corsini in Florence, Armani Teatro in Milan or the Washington St. truck loading dock in NY. Then, lighting is crucial, and then the art, the music and making sure you get a big turnout of people. One thing with our shows is that we have every type of person from every race and social class — from Hells Angels to politicians, they all come and everyone seems to have a good time.
You have collaborated with Giorgio Armani. Tell us about the relationship between you, and the exhibitions you have brought to life together.
Working with the Armani team has been a great learning process. To me, Mr. Armani is a genius and in a league of his own. There is no one like him, and no one will ever be like him. To work with him has been the most privileged experience.
What have you learned from working with Giorgi Armani and his iconic brand?
What I learned most from working with his team is that when you lead your company, there is only one person that can get the job done, and that’s yourself. He works so hard and runs a company in the most effective, disciplined manner. To me, he’s pretty much the most influential man on this planet.
Who are two living artists that you admire, and why?
Barry McGee and Richard Hambleton. They created such a following, and are humble in the art world, unlike most other artists. To me, their art speaks for itself, and the influence they have had on so many other living artists is huge. You will pretty much never meet two more interesting geniuses.
Who are two of your favourite deceased artists, and why?
Gauguin and Basquiat — just go and look at their art.
Name one artist you’ve worked with that you love. What makes them special?
Richard Hambleton, for surviving a life being one of the most celebrated and famous artists in the world in the early ’80’s to becoming homeless and battling the most fierce drug addiction for over 35 years, and still being able to be creative and paint. His journey, story and history. He is the most fascinating person I have ever had the privilege to work with.
What city in the world is currently the most exciting for you as an art dealer?
New York and London.
What are your tips for looking at and appreciating art?
Just appreciate what interests you.
What is your favourite piece of art you own?
An El Greco.
What advice do you have for Australians who would like to move to the U.S. and work in your industry?
If you come over, it will be the best thing you ever did.
What motivates you to get up and go for it every day?
The challenge of being successful, creative, keeping out of trouble and making an honest living. When you’re busy in life with fun projects, it’s always a challenge. Life is just a game.