How the pandemic turned the Hamptons into a new hub for New York City's art dealers

Howie Kahn, GQ, March 15, 2021

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Among those evolving their “bricks and clicks” strategies in the Hamptons, 49-year-old Emmanuel Di Donna has brought together the digital and physical in a newly created brand he calls Sélavy By Di Donna. “I didn’t want to create another Di Donna here,” he says of his 600 square metre namesake gallery in Manhattan. “I don’t think the austerity of it, of the brand, would work.”

Di Donna Galleries specialises in museum-calibre exhibitions of surrealist works made between 1900 and 1970. Sélavy, on the other hand, named for Rrose Sélavy, the female alter ego of conceptualist Marcel Duchamp, looks more like James Bond’s living room, combining timeless pieces across a variety of genres with no expense or verve spared. A sleek, limited-edition Man Ray chess set sits near the entrance, a $5m (£3.7m) Warhol silkscreen hangs on one wall, a gouache and India ink Picasso self-portrait, painted a few months before the artist’s death in 1973, hangs adjacent. “Let me show you how it looks online,” says Di Donna, tapping the screen of his iPad. Everything for sale in the room can be bought digitally, from an ancient Greek marble torso for $85,000 (£65,000) to a $1.2m (£900,000) Dubuffet acrylic of human-like figures seemingly looking to escape a hellish maze. Di Donna has signed a three-year lease in Southampton and has started to think of Sélavy as a modular showroom. “You can’t stay still in the art world. The models are changing. You have to roll with the punches,” says Di Donna. “We could take this to Palm Beach,” he continues. “We can go anywhere.”

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