The groundbreaking art dealer Leslie Waddington has died age 81, the gallery announced yesterday, “On behalf of all here at Waddington Custot Galleries, I want to express how extremely saddened we are by the death of the gallery’s founder Leslie Waddington. Leslie was known for his knowledge, fiery character and integrity. We send our thoughts and sincere condolences to Leslie’s family at this time.
Leslie was a true pioneer. He introduced the work of the Colour Field and Post War American artists to London and solidified the reputation of British painters such as Peter Blake, Patrick Caulfield, Terry Frost and Patrick Heron.
A legendary figure in the art world, Leslie exhibited and dealt work by many of the greatest artists of the 20th century, from Picasso, Matisse, Baselitz, Morandi, Flanagan, Arp to Laurens, Leger, Miró, Tápies and Dubuffet.
I feel extremely privileged to have known Leslie for 25 years and to have worked alongside him as his partner in the gallery for the past five. He was a constant source of inspiration and we shall all greatly miss him.”
Leslie Waddington has been Chairman of Waddington Custot Galleries since 1966 (formerly Waddington Galleries). Stephane Custot became his business partner in 2010.
Leslie Waddington was educated at Portora Royal School and received his Diplôme from the Ecole du Louvre in Paris, France. He was Chairman of the Modern Painting section of Maastricht Art Fair from 1994 to 2004 and Chairman of the Picture Section from 1996 to 2000.
In 1966 Leslie started his own gallery in London’s Cork Street, having previously worked with his father Victor Waddington. Leslie Waddington had the backing of Alex Bernstein, a member of the Granada media dynasty who remained a business partner until his death in 2010.
In 2011, Waddington Galleries become Waddington Custot Galleries. Lord Bernstein died in 2010, and the 50% of the shares they owned were sold to the London-based French art dealer Stéphane Custot. In 2013, Sir Nicholas Serota, Director of the Tate Gallery presented Waddington with the Federation of European Art Galleries Association lifetime achievement award “for his efforts in creating and directing an exemplary gallery of high international standing.”