Perry Rubinstein, a merchant with deep social connections in New York and Los Angeles whose career was interrupted by a grand theft conviction, died at the age of 68. His ex-wife, public relations executive Sarah Fitzmaurice, confirmed Rubinstein’s death and said he died of natural causes.
“Berry has had some twists and turns in his journey, but his true north has always been his unconditional love for his daughters, and his legacy will continue with them,” Fitzmaurice wrote in an email. “We will really miss him.”
Before serving six months in prison several years ago, Rubinstein was prized in the New York and Los Angeles sights, thanks to his eponymous gallery, which filed for bankruptcy in 2014.
Rubinstein has worked with artists such as Mike Kelly, Sturtevant, James Lee Piers, Diana Al Hadid, Ewan Ban, Jesper Guest, Kamrose Aram, and Robin Rudd. Having initially opened on Prince Street in Soho in 1989, Rubinstein opened two venues in Chelsea in 2004, then moved his entire operation to Los Angeles in 2011, at a time when few New York showrooms had done so.
But his high-profile theft accusation, which resulted from allegations that two Los Angeles collectors were involved, tarnished his reputation. While he continued to work as an art consultant, his gallery never opened.
Born in 1954, Rubinstein got his start as a model. He claimed that designer Gianni Versace first noticed him during the 1970s while in Milan.
“Versace threw several jackets for pictures of me, and then said to me, ‘You’re the best supermodel in this town,'” Rubinstein said. Artillery in 2013. “Of course, I was the only 6-foot model, because it was off-season. At the end of the day, he gave me $1,000 in cash. Soon I was working with Versace, Armani, Valentino and other top designers, and modeling for French and Italian Vogue magazineTraveling across Europe and Africa.
While in Europe he bought works by up-and-coming Italian artists such as Francesco Clemente, Enzo Cocci and Sandro Chia, and amassed a collection Artillery It was described as “small but significant”. Several years later, he stopped modeling and moved to New York.
In that city, he joined a crowd that included Andy Warhol, Larry Gagosian, Tony Schfrazy, and Jean-Michel Basquiat. In one of several Medium posts Rubinstein has written over the years, he described his friendship with Basquiat, describing himself as a “supporter” of the artist’s drug-taking habits during the early stages of Basquiat’s short career.
“Our relationship was built on my passion for his work and our shared passion for some of the same recreational drugs, which became very dangerous for both of us as we progressed from ganga to fine wine to the queen of drugs and cocaine,” Rubinstein wrote. .
Although Rubinstein did not initially start his career with serious ambitions in the art world, his exhibition ended up being a success. Tell Artillery that he was able to gain a foothold in the art world of New York because “the barriers to entry into this world were noticeably less regulated than they are today”.
Much later, Rubinstein’s move to open Chelsea in 2004 was a significant step. He became an early adopter of the neighborhood, which is now one of New York’s central exhibition areas. he told The New York Times in 2007.
His tune changed in 2011, when he moved to Los Angeles and told Los Angeles Times That there are “very limited possibilities as to what you can do with the exhibition space” in New York. He said that Los Angeles “is no longer the sideshow; it is no longer second only to New York as the capital of the arts.”
Things began to turn when, in 2013, Michael Ovitz, a collector and co-founder of Creative Artists Agency, sued Rubinstein over the sale of two Richard Prince works worth nearly $1 million. Ovitz claimed that Rubinstein withheld the proceeds from the sale of one lot and sold another lot at a price lower than the price they had agreed upon. That same year, collector Michael Salk also alleged that Rubinstein defrauded him while selling Takashi Murakami’s piece. Rubinstein denied Ovitz and Saleck’s allegations.
One year later, in 2014, Perry Rubinstein Gallery filed for bankruptcy in Los Angeles. Also in 2014, Rubinstein and Fitzmaurice divorced.
In 2017, Rubinstein did not defend any competition in the crimes of grand theft and embezzlement and was sentenced to six months in prison.
In a post on Medium, Rubinstein described the “injustice” he witnessed during his time behind bars. He recounted various instances of racism towards other fellow students around him, many of whom were black or brown, and vowed to reintroduce himself as a better person.
He wrote: “Through the miserable haze, I began to see more clearly.”