The making of Anna Weyant, the hot new superstar of Art

On Thursday night, a flood of glamorous spectators with programs and champagne flutes settled into their seats on the 7th floor of Sotheby’s and waited for the show to begin. With five international flags flying over the main entrance, the auction house’s New York headquarters looks more like an embassy, ​​but instead of bureaucrats, busts populate its halls.

For the next two and a half hours, the room watched intently as work by established 20th-century names like Ed Ruscha, Francis Bacon, and Cy Twombly sold for tens of millions of dollars, and the numbers flew by like dandelion fluff.

but falling woman (2020), a painting by a 27-year-old artist named Anna Weyant was first on the list. As soon as the clock struck 6, bids at $300,000, then $500,000 sprang out the gate like Thoroughbreds as Sotheby’s bidders yelled at each other, scrambling to claim the prize for their mystery clients. By the time the dust settled, an online bidder had won Weyant’s work for $1.6 million, setting a new auction record for the painter.

On May 6th, Gagosian announced that they have started representing Weyant, making her the youngest artist in Moloch Gallery’s inimitable roster. The past three years have seen Weyant’s art world turmoil steadily accumulate, but still coups like this one are unusual, especially given Gagosian’s enormous impact on the world stage and the artist’s extreme youth.

Many artists literally toil in the dark for a lifetime before selling a single work, and getting gallery representation in a city as rough as New York City takes a fine combination of skill, charisma and the right connections.

But Weyant, who earned a BFA in painting from the Rhode Island School of Design in 2017, has made an extraordinary rise in the market in what seems like a short amount of time.

“There was clearly a lot of appetite in the market for the works. They were very difficult to access in elementary school, the show was sold out.”

— Lucius Eliot

“I got wind of Anna Weyant for the first time last summer,” said Lucius Elliott, head of Sotheby’s Now Evening Auction. “I was asked about her by different people at the time, she just had her first show at Blum & Poe. There was clearly a lot of appetite in the market for the works. They were very difficult to access in elementary school, the show sold out.”

The first Weyant piece ever offered at auction was called a drawing of long bare legs Untitled, nearly quadrupled his estimate at Phillips last June. Exceeding the expected results has turned out to be anything but a stroke of luck for the young painter.

Josephine, a sombre still life, was sold at Sotheby’s in Hong Kong in April for $513,900 with an estimate of between $32,000 and $58,000, and in May a work by Weyant was sold at Lot 1 at Christie’s, Sotheby’s and Phillips. Your painting of 2020 Summer went past an estimate of $200,000 to $300,000 for $1.5 million at Christie’s on May 9 and Phillips sold Weyant’s on May 18 Buffet II for $730,000 above an estimate of $100,000-150,000.

“These auction results also generate and attract a lot of attention,” said Elliott. “Rightly or wrongly, it’s something that people will notice and the fact that she changed the gallery’s representation from the start of our view is also a relevant factor, particularly Gagosian, the largest gallery in the world.”


One look at her work and you’ll likely understand the hype: Weyant’s figurative paintings feature a muted palette that largely favors black, olive green and peach, and evoke a flurry of references (Dutch Old Masters, contemporary classic John Currin, Shannon Cartier Lucy’s freaky domesticity) suggesting a deep reverence for art’s past and present.

Weyant’s female figures are unmistakably contemporary with a hint of uneasiness, and her paintings of objects offer unexpected pairings: banded handguns alongside delicate vases. Her images are feminist and open, but reserved; a little nervous but not threatening.

Raised in Calgary, Alberta, Canada, Weyant’s childhood was often “idyllic,” she said Artnet last year, if not necessarily art-centric. Coming through her past is a big part of the artist’s process: “It’s something I’ve returned to through art over the last few years, my childhood and adolescence and gotten to where I am now,” she admitted Artnet.


“I just recently found this old journal that I wrote when I was about 13,” Weyant added Artnet. “And like any other 13-year-old, I was a monster in many ways. One of the entries was something like, “I was just asked out by a guy and the next day he left me and he was the love of my life and I was so heartbroken.” And then I signed it, saying this girl – let’s call her Stacey – ‘looked so fat today.’ Then, “Xo, Anna.” Woe is me, I have this horrible breakup and then I burn someone down in the same breath.”

“I think she would have been successful without Larry Gagosian’s girlfriend, but the rise would not have been as quick.”

— Vasily Kaliman

Everyone has nagging questions about a young superstar, and insiders have followed Weyant’s meteoric rise to fame with skepticism and wonder. In October, Artnet reported that Weyant was dating 76-year-old mega-dealer Larry Gagosian, sparking an avalanche of gossip. (Gagosian Gallery and Weyant declined to comment to The Daily Beast.)

Corresponding page sixGagosian and his longtime girlfriend Chrissie Erpf, a senior director at the gallery, split in 2019. Later that year, page six reported that Gagosian had started dating Holly Bawden, his 35-year-old former personal assistant.


“I think she’s pretty good,” art consultant Vasili Kaliman said of Weyant. “Her work right now is probably derived from John Currin, but I think it will grow into her own thing. I think she would have been successful without Larry Gagosian’s girlfriend, but the rise wouldn’t have been as quick.”

Whisper of drama is not limited to the artist’s private life. Weyant’s first solo exhibition, Welcome to the dollhousetook place in Chinatown hotspot 56 Henry in 2019. The dozen paintings in dollhouse depict a group of girls at rest playing cards or hiding behind a candelabra, and their painted dollhouse is inspired by a weyant grown up.


joke of the stairs2020

Courtesy of Gagosian

In 2021, Weyant’s show with Blum & Poe in Los Angeles, Loose Screw, continued to add momentum. When Weyant teamed up with Gagosian earlier this month, her new gallery didn’t mention her shows with either 56 Henry or Blum & Poe in its acquisition announcement, sparking rumors of a dust cloud behind the scenes.

After RISD, Weyant spent seven months at the China Academy of Art in Hangzhou, where he studied traditional painting, before returning to New York and getting a job as an artist assistant.

“Anna was an assistant to an artist I work with,” said Ellie Rines, the owner of Chinatown gallery 56 Henry, which is a star maker. (Rines refused to name the artist Weyant worked for.) “I went to [Weyant’s] Studio, and their pictures had this chiaroscuro technique that I found really amazing. She was able to make these really flat beautiful surfaces and I was really amazed. She would improve drastically every few months. She was very conscientious of painting all night in her studio. Anna is someone who really loves to paint and who really cares about the quality of painting.”

“Ellie discovered Anna Weyant,” said Bill Powers, an art dealer and owner of Half Gallery. “When I brokered the sale [Weyant’s] The first painting to Larry Gagosian, I actually passed that deal on to Ellie and Ellie closed the sale.

“I billed Larry because I was Anna’s gallery owner at the time,” Rines said.

“She’s a 27-year-old woman, and I find it really wild that men, mostly middle-aged men, are spreading all these rumors about her. I find it so pathetic.”

— Ellie Rines

A source at Sotheby’s on Thursday compared Weyant to Taylor Swift: Both are child prodigies, as well as being the target of misogynistic gossip and severe scrutiny of their dating lives.

“When someone becomes successful, people kind of forget that that’s a human being,” Rines said. “She’s a 27-year-old woman and I find it really wild that men, mostly middle-aged men, are spreading all these rumors about her. I find it so pathetic.”

With a string of assassin victories under her belt, all eyes are on Weyant’s precociously enchanted career, for better or worse. What happens next?

“Given last week’s results, Anna Weyant’s work is certainly of interest for auction, there is clearly a high demand,” said Elliott. “Before the sale took place we had registered a number of phones at work and that was evidenced by the result. But what happens next on the auction market is decided by our consignors, our clients and the wind.” The making of Anna Weyant, the hot new superstar of Art


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