CRG Gallery - photo Robert Caplin

New York art world counts the cost of Sandy

"The whole river came in and swept up Chelsea," Pace Gallery's Arne Glimcher tells

As New York stumbles into the weekend, the art world is continuing the clean up operation and calculating the cost after the devastation wraught by Hurricane Sandy. Arne Glimcher, author of Agnes Martin and owner of the Pace Gallery, which was hit, told the storm was a "nightmare".

"Chelsea, where all the galleries are, was under water," he told us. "The whole river came in and swept up Chelsea. Fortunately we had the presence of mind the day before to remove all the paintings from downtown, so we just suffered water damage, but it's a nightmare. We live on the East River Drive, I overlook the drive, and the East River came and swallowed the drive, it was unbelievable I've never seen anything like it. It was like Venice. 

"Today is the first day that the bridges are open and the traffic is hardly moving, it's so jammed. All the subways are closed, It's a nightmare. The city is just crippled. You can't imagine anything like it. But we're lucky - what happened in New Jersey is just devastation, whole neighbourhoods swept away and out to sea."

David Zwirner was about to mount an exhibition of works by Luc Tuymans and Francis Alÿs at his gallery on West 19th Street when Sandy hit. “We were expecting a foot of water, and we got four,” he told the New York Times. "There was a lot of damage, but it would be impossible at this point to say how much. I have a feeling that many of the pieces can be restored.” Zwirner said that, like Arne Glimcher, he had “prepared diligently” and had moved much of his art to his warehouse in Queens, which he said was untouched.

“But the gallery itself was hit hard,” he said, despite the fact he'd piled up sandbags in the hope of keeping the water out. As well as artwork, he lost computers, furniture and flat files that had been stored on the ground floor.

Larry Gagosian, who has three galleries in Manhattan, said that his 21st Street gallery took in around four feet of water, and his 24th Street gallery a few inches. “Thank goodness we had warning this was coming, because we moved a lot of art high up on the walls before the storm,” he said.