How Hauser & Wirth Los Angeles connects art and culture around the world.

By Peter O’Toole

July 13, 2022

Interior shot of Hauser & Wirth Los Angeles. (Photo credit): Hauser & Wirth

How “a family business with a global outlook” partnered with East West to bring art to customers around the world.

For centuries, art has provided people with a certain refuge from an uncertain world.

Indeed, even in the depths of war and through the rise and fall of empires, we and our ancestors were able to escape, however briefly, by slipping into the elusive dream world of music, painting, sculpture, dance and much more. .

Yet while the idea of ​​art may seem magical and enjoyable, the business of art is very serious, as a series of New York auctions recently demonstrated that boosted 2022 sales of homes. Sotheby’s, Christie’s and Phillips auctions at over $2.5 billion.

But even before these mind-blowing auctions can take place, the public must first be made aware of the art, the artist, and the possibility of a piece being for sale. This is the realm of the gallery, and one of the biggest global players in this space is Eastern West Bank client Hauser & Wirth.

Connecting art lovers from East and West

Launched in Zurich in 1992 and with offices scattered across major art capitals, Hauser & Wirth works with some of the world’s leading living artists, including China’s Zeng Fanzhi, who has called his work “an experiment in miao wu (wonderful revelation), a restless journey of discovery.

Yet after a wonderful period of growth, in 2019 Hauser & Wirth had the revelation that their large legacy bank lacked the personal and technological agility the gallery needed to ensure its Chinese clients could access artists. like Zeng or others past and present. masters, no matter where the physical art or gallery is.

“Even when Chinese collectors can afford to buy art, they are not able to easily exchange the currency and they need help to bridge the gap,” says Lucy Yan, head of art. relationships at East West Bank.

But what these legacy banks couldn’t do, East West Bank’s bridge bankers could, drawing on their cross-border expertise to move the gallery’s art-hungry customers from ‘waiting’ to ‘SOLD!’ »

East West worked with mobile payment provider Citcon, Inc. to help Hauser & Wirth accept Chinese bank card payments in renminbi (RMB) and exchange them into Swiss francs, euros and dollars so the gallery could close more of transactions.

“East West Bank’s team is agile and takes the time to understand the business while acting quickly,” said Marc Payot, Partner and President of Hauser & Wirth. “Their customer service is second to last.”

That first-class customer service came into sharper focus a few months later when the coronavirus pandemic hit in the spring of 2020, sending people rushing and businesses reeling.

In the United States, as the federal government quickly funded programs to protect people, support businesses and save millions of jobs, hindsight reminds us that nothing was certain at the time.

“One day I got a call and Hauser & Wirth told me that their old bank had processed one of the gallery’s Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) loan applications, but not the other,” says Yan.

So East West stepped in to once again close the gap.

“East West was able to secure funding for its loan in about a week,” says Yan, and the Bank then processed the second round of PPP loans for museum-quality galleries from Hauser & Wirth in New York and Los Angeles. “We were the bank that these important galleries could rely on.”

In 2022, in its 30th year in business, women’s condominium Hauser & Wirth leans into the burgeoning global art market and enjoys new popularity, sparked by the fact that its Los Angeles outpost has been voted “Best Gallery in Los Angeles” by Time Out LA.

One of the reasons is the quality of the art. Another is the quality of the gallery people.

“I think when most people think of the art world, they think it’s a closed circle,” concludes Yan. “But they are extremely accessible people. The gallery owners are very easy to work with and that has made art a personal interest for me.

“We have a very important role and, for me, it’s work and play,” she laughs.

Learn about Hauser & Wirth and other clients in East West Bank’s 2021 Annual Report.

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