Hurricane Sandy, which hit Manhattan on Monday night, October 29, 2012 has taken its toll on several Chelsea, Soho and Lower Eastside contemporary art galleries. The storm produced three to five feet (1-1.8 meters) of flooding inside the galleries and devastated storage spaces, studios and offices. The clean up process has begun but artworks and a number of exhibitions were destroyed or badly damaged. It is thought that it will take weeks before the galleries are dried out and reopened for business. It is thought that many of the galleries are uninsured for “natural disaster” coverage. It is estimated that the cost of the storm could top $50 billion losses.
The fallout from the hurricane continues to affect New York’s art world. The FIFTEENTH anniversary of the Editions | Artists’ Book Fair. E | AB which was supposed to open on Thursday evening was cancelled. This is one of the key fairs for limited edition prints and a high point of the art calendar. Sotheby’s is also rescheduling its prestigious Impressionist sale due to the storm. It will now be held 8 Nov not on the 5 Nov as listed. The power outages in the downtown area forced the New Museum to suspend its public programs and events and several galleries said they would have to postpone openings in the next two weeks because of flooding and power blackouts.
Katya Kazakina reported for Bloomberg,” The flooding and power outages have forced many galleries, including Pace, David Zwirner, Cheim & Read and Lehmann Maupin to postpone exhibition openings scheduled to coincide with the big auctions at Sotheby’s and Christie’.Across the street, at David Zwirner, art handlers were moving paintings to dry ground. The watermark from flooding was visible on the doors and walls several feet from the ground. It was the same story at Paula Cooper and Gagosian galleries on West 21st Street, where a giant Henry Moore sculpture, in protective wrapping, could be seen through the window”.
The Postmasters gallery, tweeted; “Chelsea is flooded up to tenth avenue… Pumping the basement.” With water rising, paintings not removed from walls have been badly damaged. At Zach Feuer gallery, for instance, where water reached 5ft high indoors, the exhibition Kate Levant: Closure Of the Jaw has been “destroyed”. On the pavement outside Churner and Churner gallery on Tenth Avenue, soiled paintings in bubble wrap are piled up. “I’ve probably lost $100,000 worth of art,” says owner Rachel Churner.