Mary Boone

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Mary Boone
Bornc. 1951/1952 (age 68–69)
EducationRhode Island School of Design
Hunter College
OccupationArt dealer and gallerist
Years active1973-present
Spouse(s)Michael Werner (divorced)

Mary Boone (born c. 1951/1952)[1] is an American art dealer and gallerist, and the owner and director of the Mary Boone Gallery. She played an important role in the New York art market of the 1980s. Her first two artists, Julian Schnabel and David Salle, became internationally known, and in 1982 she had a cover story on New York magazine tagged "The New Queen of the Art Scene."[2] The Mary Boone Gallery has represented artists including Jean-Michel Basquiat, Barbara Kruger, Eric Fischl, Ross Bleckner, and Brice Marden. Originally based in SoHo, Boone operated two galleries, one in midtown on Fifth Avenue, the other in Chelsea. Following her 2019 conviction and sentencing to 30 months in prison for tax evasion, she indicated the intention to close both galleries.[3][4]

Early career (1973–1989)[edit]

Boone was born and raised in Erie, Pennsylvania as a member of an immigrant Egyptian family.[1][5] She studied Art History at Rhode Island School of Design and received her BFA in Sculpture in 1973.[6][7] Deciding she did not have the skill to make it as a painter, Boone moved to New York City to study art history at Hunter College.[6][8] She met Lynda Benglis at Hunter College, who connected Boone to a job at Bykert Gallery.[6]

After working as a secretary at Klaus Kertess' influential Bykert Gallery,[9] she opened her own gallery in SoHo in 1977 to a positive reception. Her first two artists, Julian Schnabel and David Salle rapidly became popular in the Neo-expressionism movement.[10] While Schnabel became a celebrity artist, Boone was recognized as a new breed of dealer; young and aggressive.[11] Boone was able to expand her gallery across the street in 1981 and, in 1982, secured emerging artist Eric Fischl.[12] Boone had earned a reputation for hype and media frenzy around herself and her artists when she was featured on the cover of New York magazine that same year. The rising artist Jean-Michel Basquiat joined the Mary Boone Gallery before his well received 1984 solo show there.[11][13] Established artist Barbara Kruger was the first female artist to join Boone in 1987, surprising the art world that a leading feminist "deconstructivist" appropriation artist would join the gallery best known for aggressive neo-expressionist painting.

Mary Boone was one of the most successful gallerists of her generation[14] and became "the dealer who epitomized the speculative '80s art world."[15] She was the first dealer to require waiting lists for collectors to buy works that had not yet been produced, though some collectors were granted "first refusal".[12] When the art market crashed in 1990, she was condemned for her role in the over-heated market of the previous decade. Boone was accused of over-hyping her artists or pushing them to release inferior works to fulfill market demand.[16] In a later interview with W magazine, Boone explained without any prompting, "I think I lost my way. It was the Eighties. I got too involved with fame and fortune."[8]

Boone was on the cover of a 1982 New York Magazine story titled, The New Queen of the Art Scene.[17]

Later career (1990–today)[edit]

After the 1990 art market collapse, Mary Boone avoided bankruptcy by selling some of her personal collection. Several of her big artists left for other galleries, including Salle, Marden and Georg Baselitz; though Kruger, Fischl and Bleckner remained. An Eric Fischl painting she had sold at the height of the market for $1.4 million was resold in the early 1990s for only $167,500.[16] In 1996, the Mary Boone Gallery left SoHo and opened a midtown gallery on Fifth Avenue. She opened a second gallery in the Chelsea art district in 2000 while adding a younger generation of artists that included Will Cotton, Tom Sachs, and Inka Essenhigh.[16]

Fischl told a reporter in 2008 that Boone had "changed radically. Dramatically but slowly, if that's possible. She's really moved from a mono-focused, obsessive, driven character who could be bullying, infuriating, quick to argue and ultimately isolated to somebody who—through her spiritual development, her revelations—serves her community.[8]

In 2016, actor Alec Baldwin filed a civil suit against Boone alleging she misrepresented a Ross Bleckner painting he purchased through her six years earlier. Boone denied the claim, but in 2017 settled for a "seven-figure" amount.[18][19][20][21]

Boone was played by Parker Posey in Julian Schnabel's 1996 film Basquiat.

Legal issues[edit]

In September 2018, Boone pleaded guilty to filing false income tax returns. She reported a business loss of approximately $52,521, when the Gallery made a profit of approximately $3.7 million.[22][23] Boone "agreed to pay more than $3 million in restitution for taxes she owes for 2009, 2010, and 2011."[24] On February 14, 2019 Boone was sentenced to thirty months in federal prison by Judge Alvin Hellerstein of the United States District Court for the Southern District of New York for defrauding the IRS.[25] Boone remarked, "If I'm going to be the Martha Stewart of the art world, I would hope to do it with the same humility, humor, grace, and intelligence that she did. I'm trying to be optimistic and see this as a learning experience." She also announced that both locations of her eponymous gallery would close.[26]

Personal life[edit]

In 1979, Boone married the German art dealer Michael Werner, with whom she has a son, Max.[27][28] They later divorced.[27][28]


Artists who have been represented or shown by the Mary Boone Gallery include:


  1. ^ a b Fischl, Eric (October 22, 2014). "Mary Boone". Interview. Archived from the original on November 13, 2017. Retrieved November 13, 2017. ...the 62-year-old Boone ... an Erie, Pennsylvania, native who moved to New York at the age of 19...
  2. ^ a b c (1982-04-19),"The New Queen of the Art Scene". New York
  3. ^ "Dealer Mary Boone to Close Her New York Gallery".
  4. ^ "From Art World Superstar to Felon: What Happened to Mary Boone?". April 18, 2019.
  5. ^ Bidoun. "Mary Boone is Egyptian". Bidoun. Retrieved March 30, 2019.
  6. ^ a b c Freeman, Nate (February 14, 2019). "The Rise and Fall of the Queen of the New York Art World". Artsy. Retrieved February 27, 2021.
  7. ^ "RISD XYZ Spring/Summer 2012". Issuu. Spring 2012. p. 73. Retrieved February 27, 2021.
  8. ^ a b c Julie L. Belcove (November 2008). A New Boone. W magazine. Retrieved February 19, 2009.
  9. ^ Bernstein, Jacob (March 31, 2019). "Mary Boone Is Not Done". New York Times. pp. ST1, 8–9. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved January 24, 2021.
  10. ^ Cottington, David, Modern Art: A Very Short Introduction, 2005, p35. Oxford University Press, ISBN 0-19-280364-6
  11. ^ a b McGuigan, Cathleen (1985-02-85),"New Art, New Money". The New York Times, New Art, New Money
  12. ^ a b Finke, Nikki (2005-11-17),"Blame Ovitz: When Art Started Imitating Hollywood", LA Weekly, [1]
  13. ^ Raynor, Vivien (1984-05-11),"Art: Paintings by Jean-Michel Basquiat at Boone". The New York Times, [2]
  14. ^ Tittel, Cornelius (2006-05-14), "And then it went boom", Die Welt Am Sonntag. "Archived copy". Archived from the original on June 25, 2006. Retrieved June 16, 2006.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  15. ^ David Rimanelli (September 1, 1997). "Uptown girl: Mary Boone's new art gallery in uptown SoHo". Interior Design. Archived from the original on October 21, 2012.
  16. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m Haas, Nancy (2000-03-05), "Stirring Up the Art World Again". The New York Times, [3].
  17. ^ Hurtado, Patricia; Kazakina, Katya (September 5, 2018). "Art Dealer Mary Boone Pleads Guilty to Federal Tax Crimes - BNN Bloomberg". BNN. Retrieved October 13, 2018.
  18. ^ Bowley, Graham (November 13, 2017). "Why Is Alec Baldwin at Least $1 Million Richer Today?". The New York Times. Retrieved November 23, 2017.
  19. ^ Lehman, Susan (November 20, 2017). "Alec Baldwin's Legal Tussle Over a Painting". The New Yorker. Retrieved November 22, 2017.
  20. ^ Lovece, Frank (November 13, 2017). "Alec Baldwin settles lawsuit, will donate half the proceeds to rebuild Sag Harbor Cinema". Newsday. Retrieved November 22, 2017.
  21. ^ Perlson, Hili (September 13, 2016). "Alec Baldwin Sues Gallerist Mary Boone Over Swapped Painting". Artnet. Retrieved November 22, 2017.
  22. ^ "Art Gallery Owner Pleads Guilty In Manhattan Federal Court To Filing False Tax Returns". September 5, 2018. Retrieved September 6, 2018.
  23. ^ Greenberger, Alex (September 5, 2018). "Dealer Mary Boone Pleads Guilty to Filing False Tax Returns". ARTnews. Retrieved September 6, 2018.
  24. ^ Patricia Hurtado and Katya Kazakina (September 6, 2018), Art Dealer Mary Boone Pleads Guilty to Federal Tax Crimes, Daily Tax Report
  25. ^ "Gallerist Mary Boone Has Been Sentenced to 30 Months in Prison". February 15, 2019. Retrieved March 30, 2019.
  26. ^ Russeth, Andrew (February 23, 2019). "Recently Sentenced New York Art Dealer Mary Boone Will Close Her Gallery". ARTnews. Archived from the original on June 21, 2019. Retrieved March 30, 2019.
  27. ^ a b Belcove, Julie L. "A New Boone". Retrieved September 27, 2018.
  28. ^ a b "Mary Boone is Egyptian - Bidoun". Bidoun. Retrieved September 27, 2018.
  29. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q r s t "Interview Magazine". Interview Magazine. October 22, 2014.
  30. ^ Geers, David (2017-06-20),"Judith Barry, Mary Boone Gallery". Frieze Magazine, [4] Retrieved February 14, 2019.
  31. ^ Black, Hannah (2015-06-03),"Ericka Beckman, at Mary Boone." Art in America Magazine, [5] Retrieved February 14, 2019.
  32. ^ Bleckner, Ross (July 1, 2001). "Inka Essenhigh by Ross Bleckner". Bomb. Retrieved November 23, 2017.
  33. ^ "The Process: Hilary Harkness". September 2011.
  34. ^ "Hilary Harkness Joins P.P.O.W. Gallery in New York". July 15, 2019.
  35. ^ " Magazine Features - Mary Boone's Chelsea Triumph". Retrieved March 30, 2019.
  36. ^ Stamler, Hannah (2017-03), "Allan McCollum, Mary Boone Gallery | Chelsea." Artforum, [6] Retrieved February 14, 2019.
  37. ^ Knoblauch, Loring (2018-07-9),"Laurie Simmons, Clothes Make the Man: Works from 1990-1994 @Mary Boone." Collector Daily, [7] Retrieved February 14, 2019.

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