Ace Gallery

Coordinates: 34°03′44″N 118°20′56″W / 34.06214°N 118.34888°W / 34.06214; -118.34888
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ACE Gallery
IndustryArt gallery
FounderDouglas Chrismas[1]
United States
Exterior of ACE Gallery Beverly Hills, 9430 Wilshire Blvd, Beverly Hills, CA 90212

ACE Gallery is an internationally recognized art gallery specializing in contemporary art. ACE Gallery Los Angeles is located in the Miracle Mile section of Los Angeles a few blocks east of Museum Row.


ACE Gallery Los Angeles[edit]

Since 1986, ACE Gallery Los Angeles has occupied the entire second floor of the Wilshire Tower. This 11-story Art Deco structure fills an entire block of Wilshire Boulevard’s Miracle Mile. The building first opened on March 15, 1929 with Desmond Department Store that signaled the start of this becoming an important retail district.[2] Inside the Wilshire Tower, Ace has 30,000 feet of museum-quality gallery space.[3]

ACE Gallery Beverly Hills[edit]

In 2003, ACE Gallery opened an annex in Beverly Hills with an inaugural exhibition of large paintings by Sam Francis.[4] ACE Gallery Beverly Hills closed in November 2016.[5]

ACE Museum[edit]

In 1985, ACE Gallery launched an exhibition space in a 13,000 square feet warehouse with 25-foot ceilings at 5917 Burchard St. near Venice and La Cienega boulevards called the "Ace Museum."[6] Incorporated in June 2009, Ace Museum became a separate and independent non-profit organization. The current museum is located at 400 South La Brea Avenue in the Hancock Park neighborhood of Los Angeles.

As of the change of directorship in April 2016, ACE Gallery Los Angeles and ACE Gallery Beverly Hills have no relationship with Ace Museum.[7]


ACE Gallery founder Douglas Chrismas opened his own frame shop and gallery in Vancouver at the age of 17. His gallery became known as a venue where Vancouver artists could show alongside major New Yorkers, and get the feeling of belonging to a bigger scene.[8] In the 60s and early 70s he brought artists such as Robert Rauschenberg, Carl Andre, Sol LeWitt, Bruce Nauman, and Donald Judd to Vancouver, Canada.[9]

The gallery expanded to Los Angeles in 1967 at the former Virginia Dwan Gallery space in Westwood, and then further expanded to New York in 1994. The galleries were noted for doing museum-level exhibitions by up and coming and internationally renowned artists. While in New York the gallery’s presence was amplified by doing exhibitions in conjunction with cultural institutions such as the Guggenheim Museum and the Cartier Foundation (Paris). Under Chrismas' directorship, ACE Gallery has had either offices or galleries in art centers outside of the United States, such as Mexico City, Paris, Berlin. and Beijing.[10]

In 1972, Chrismas mounted Robert Irwin’s installation Room Angle Light Volume at the first ACE/Venice, which opened at 72 Market Street in 1971. In 1977, ACE mounted exhibitions of work by Frank Stella and Robert Motherwell, along with Michael Heizer’s Displaced/Replaced Mass. Installed at ACE/Venice, the Heizer piece required that huge chunks be gouged out of the gallery floor to create recessed areas able to accommodate boulders.[3]

In April 2016, ACE Gallery emerged from a three-year bankruptcy proceeding under the leadership of Sam S. Leslie.[7] In May 2016, founder Douglas Chrismas was terminated from all roles at the gallery.[11]

In July 2021, Douglas Chrismas was arrested by the FBI and charged with embezzlement. [12]

In May 2022, Douglas Chrismas was ordered to repay 14.2 million in ACE art sale profits, which were diverted to personal accounts.[13]

Chrismas is awaiting criminal trial in January, 2023. He faces up to 15 years in prison if convicted.[14]


In a 1983 lawsuit in Los Angeles federal court, Rauschenberg sought $500,000 from Chrismas' Flow ACE Gallery; the artist won a $140,000 judgment in the suit in 1984.[9] Eventually the two reconciled their differences and in 1997 Robert Rauschenberg insisted that ACE Gallery New York (in conjunction with the Guggenheim Museum) host his Retrospective.[15]

In 1986, Chrismas pleaded no contest after Canadian real estate developer C. Frederick Stimpson alleged that he had improperly sold work belonging to the collector, among them pieces by Andy Warhol and Rauschenberg. Under the terms of the settlement, Chrismas agreed to pay Stimpson $650,000 over a period of five years.[16] He continues to work with the Stimpson family in handling their art interests.

In 1989, ACE Gallery wanted to borrow a work by Judd along with Carl Andre's 1968 Fall, both owned by Count Giuseppe Panza, for an exhibition devoted to minimal art called The Innovators Entering into the Sculpture. Rather than shipping the two large scale works from Italy, Panza authorized ACE Gallery to refabricate the pieces in Los Angeles. In Panza's collection archives, there is a series of signed certificates signed by Judd that granted Panza broad authority over the works by Judd in his collection.[17] These certificates "authorized Panza and followers to reconstruct work for a variety of reasons," as long as instructions and documentation provided by Judd were followed and either he or his estate was notified. This even included the right to make "temporary exhibition copies, as long as the temporary copy was destroyed after the exhibition; and the right to recreate the work to save expense and difficulty in transportation as long as the original was then destroyed."[18] Miwon Kwon, in her account of site specificity: "One Place After Another," presents the account of ACE Gallery recreating artworks by Donald Judd and Carl Andre without the artist's permission. Andre and Judd both publicly denounced these recreations as "a gross falsification" and a "forgery," in letters to Art in America,[19] however, the fabrication of the pieces were permitted by Panza Collection in Italy, the owner of the works. Despite the confusion surrounding the Panza refabrications, both Carl Andre and Donald Judd maintained a professional relationship with Douglas Chrismas and ACE Gallery. Andre showcased works at ACE Gallery in 1997, 2002, 2007, 2011 and present day. In 2007, Carl Andre's show entitled "Zinc" was exhibited at ACE Gallery in Beverly Hills.[20] Donald Judd paid a visit to The Innovators Entering into the Sculpture exhibition at ACE Gallery and agreed to keep his sculpture in the exhibition. After the exhibition was over, Chrismas planned to sell the metal used for the re-fabrication of Judd's work for scrap metal but Judd wanted to own the re-fabrication for himself. ACE Gallery then sold the re-fabrication of Donald Judd's work to Donald Judd.[17]

After having consigned more than $4 million worth of art to ACE Gallery to sell in 1997 and 1998, the sculptor Jannis Kounellis filed a lawsuit in Los Angeles Superior Court in 2006, accusing Chrismas of keeping most of the profits of artworks and refusing to return the pieces that did not sell. According to the lawsuit, the primary agreement between Kounellis and Chrismas was oral. Chrismas returned all of Kouenllis' artwork, and did a full accounting of the proceeds from Kounellis' work—minus the expense of exhibiting it.[21] The matter was resolved between the two of them and ACE Gallery still sells and exhibits Kounellis' work today.[22]

By 2006, Chrismas had filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection at least six times since 1982,[21] barring most of his creditors from collecting the money immediately owed to them.[9] Chrismas filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy to protect the gallery's extensive real estate holdings from the problematic landlord. The landlord of the Wilshire Boulevard space, Wilshire Dunsmuir Company, claimed that ACE owed back rent and penalties however, the claim was disputed by Douglas Chrismas. In court papers, Chrismas Fine Art claimed that it would cure "the pre-petition" debt by Feb. 1, 2000, and was asking the court to protect its right to remain in the property. A declaration filed by Douglas Chrismas characterized this leasehold as the business' primary asset.[23]

Nancy Wandlass a San Francisco art dealer, made a deal with Barral, a New York art dealer, to sell a Lichtenstein and Basquiat that had been smuggled into the country by Edemar Cid Ferreira, the former head of Brazil's Banco Santos. In turn, according to a January 2007 consignment agreement, they agreed to have Doug Chrismas, owner of ACE Gallery in Los Angeles, sell the Lichtenstein. Chrismas sold it for $1.3 million to L.A.-area collector Seth Landsberg, who appraised it at $3.5 million for resale at Sotheby's. ACE Gallery then ran the painting's name through a database of stolen artworks. Days later, a federal agent contacted the gallery to warn Chrismas that the Lichtenstein was subject to seizure and forfeiture, court papers say.[24] In 2008, federal agents seized Modern Painting With Yellow Interweave (1967) by Roy Lichtenstein from the Los Angeles home of collector Seth Landsberg [25] (The painting was returned in 2010 to the Museum of Contemporary Art, University of São Paulo.)[26]


  1. ^ FINKEL, JORI (20 April 2016). "Artists Fight to Get Works Back From Ace Gallery". The New York Times. Retrieved 24 October 2017.
  2. ^ Masters, Nathan (April 11, 2012). "How the Miracle Mile Got Its Name: A Brief History of L.A.'s Unlikely Retail District". Lost LA. KCET. Retrieved September 13, 2019.
  3. ^ a b Kristine McKenna (October 9, 2003), The Ace is Wild LA Weekly.
  4. ^ Christopher Knight (March 21, 2003), Into the void with Sam Francis Los Angeles Times.
  5. ^ "Ace Gallery Beverly Hills Closing Reception". Artillery Magazine. Retrieved 29 December 2016.
  6. ^ William Wilson (December 6, 1985), La Cienega Area Los Angeles Times.
  7. ^ a b Eileen Kinsella, (May 23, 2016), [1] Artnet News.
  8. ^ Roald Nasgaard (2008), Abstract Painting in Canada.
  9. ^ a b c David Crook (April 15, 1986), Tangled Web Of Art Deals To Be Unwound At Hearing Of Dealer Los Angeles Times.
  10. ^ "Ace Gallery about page". Archived from the original on 2014-03-05.
  11. ^ Jori Finkel, (May 20, 2016), [2] The Art Newspaper.
  12. ^ Kinsella, Eileen (2021-07-29). "Notorious Los Angeles Dealer Douglas Chrismas Has Been Charged With Embezzling $260,000 From His Former Gallery". Artnet News. Retrieved 2022-09-13.
  13. ^ "Disgraced dealer Douglas Chrismas ordered to repay $14.2m in profits from art sales". The Art Newspaper - International art news and events. 2022-05-11. Retrieved 2022-09-13.
  14. ^ Wagley, Catherine (2022-09-13). "The Story Behind Legendary Dealer Doug Chrismas's Incredible Fall From Grace, Ahead of His Trial". Retrieved 2022-09-13.
  15. ^ Michael Kimmelman (September 19, 1997), ART REVIEW; Clowning Inventively With Stuff Of Beauty
  16. ^ David Freed (February 9, 1986), Art Dealer Accused of Cheating Collector of $1.2 Million Los Angeles Times.
  17. ^ a b Martha Buskirk (February 2005), The Contingent Object of Contemporary Art.
  18. ^ Greg Allen (April 27, 2010), Works on Paper
  19. ^ Kwon, Miwon (2004). One Place After Another: Site-Specific Art and Locational Identity. The MIT Press. p. 39. ISBN 026261202X.
  20. ^ "Carl Andre". p. 1. Retrieved 27 November 2013.
  21. ^ a b Jessica Garrison (May 19, 2006), Artist Sues Maverick L.A. Dealer Over Sales Los Angeles Times.
  22. ^ "ACE Gallery". cvK6ffb8uyx. p. 1. Archived from the original on 8 April 2012. Retrieved 27 November 2013.
  23. ^ Irit Krygier, Chrismas Files for Bankruptcy
  24. ^ Matt Smith (January 7, 2009),Troubled Pacific Heights art dealers still in business SF Weekly.
  25. ^ Richard Wilner (July 13, 2008),Esteemed Gallery Owner Tied To $1b Art Fraud Scandal New York Post.
  26. ^ Scott Shifrel (September 21, 2010), $1M painting, used in money-laundering scam, sent back to Brazil to reimburse defrauded victims Daily News.

34°03′44″N 118°20′56″W / 34.06214°N 118.34888°W / 34.06214; -118.34888