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October 12 2019
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German contemporary-art dealer David Zwirner. His Paris gallery opens next week in the city’s Marais district, with “Raymond Pettibon: Frenchette.”

On October 16, David Zwirner will open a Paris gallery, his sixth. (He just cut the ribbon on a Hong Kong space last year, and already operates three in New York and one in London.) Brexit is no doubt central to Zwirner’s Paris play, although at first he downplayed the political reasons behind opening the space, located in the Marais, at 108 Rue Vieille du Temple, where the French gallerist Yvon Lambert once set up shop. (Victoire de Pourtalès and Hélène Nguyen-Ban’s VNH Gallery was the last to occupy the space.) In a more recent interview, however, the German dealer clarified his motives. “Brexit changes the game,” he said. “After October, my London gallery will be a British gallery, not a European one.”

The game changer: a no-deal, hard Brexit would skyrocket import and shipping costs, making France’s VAT import-tax rate much friendlier to European buyers than the likely U.K. fees that will hit with Brexit. Other major gallerists have taken note, with Gagosian expanding to Basel and Hauser & Wirth announcing an exhibition space and “arts center” in Menorca, to be opened next year. It’s nearly impossible to tell what specifically will happen with Brexit, and when, but the major galleries are betting that it won’t be good news for their European clients.

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