Faced with a 50% increase in costs, Jamie Rountree, who has been running the firm since he bought it in 2013, has decided to leave his gallery at 7 Bury Street and instead take a small space elsewhere in St James’s, which will be by appointment only.
The firm will focus on its larger premises in Petworth, West Sussex, where it opened in 2016.
Rountree said: “The more traditional, old-fashioned dealers are being priced out of St James’s. A gallery of this size will only appeal to a seriously big contemporary gallery or one financed by a wealthy backer.”
He believes his plan for a space at the Fine Art Commissions gallery at 19 Ryder Street and Petworth will mean the businesses can continue to grow.
Rountree added: “We will keep a London address but not have the large costs. Ryder Street will be a point of contact. We won’t be able to meet walk-in clients in central London any more, but they are few and far between.
“I am very sad to be leaving but also excited for the future. It makes us more flexible. I stand by what I previously said that galleries are important – we are still a gallery-based business.”
“In the old days in St James’s the rent was paid for by walk-in clients who would buy. These days the walk-in clients have reduced and only pay for less than a month’s rent. Now our business is largely from catalogues, our website, fairs and existing clients. Galleries are important but I do not need 2000 square feet in St James’s.”
The Crown Estate controls many of the properties in St James’s. However, Christie’s owns the lease at 7 Bury Street.
The Rountree will focus on more events and exhibitions, holding some in Ryder Street and Petworth as well as pop-up events overseas. Rountree is also considering showing at more fairs and will show at BADA fair event this March.
There are other moves afoot for art galleries in St James’s: Old Master dealer Moretti is leaving 2-4 Ryder Street and the lease is being marketed by property firm Levy Real Estate. Moretti bought the freehold of 12-13 Duke Street and is redeveloping the building into a large gallery and is expected to move later this year. It was previously the home of dealers including Johnny van Haeften and Derek Johns.
Changes are also under way in Petworth, where stalwart Tony Wilkinson has retired and closed his gallery. “We had great fun and I will still do a little dealing from home,” he told ATG.
The history of Rountree Tryon:
- 1959 – Tryon Gallery founded by Aylmer Tryon. First gallery in Dover Street, Mayfair.
- 1972 – Amalgamates with The Moorland Gallery and opens a second shop in Nairobi, Kenya.
- 1981 – Moves to Cork Street, Mayfair.
- 1995 – Merges with Oliver Swann Galleries to become: Tryon and Swann Gallery
- 2000 – Incorporates with Malcolm Innes Gallery and moves to 7 Bury Street. Renamed Tryon Galleries.
- 2013 – Merges with Rountree Fine Art and renamed Rountree Tryon Galleries.
- 2016 – Opens second gallery in Petworth, West Sussex.
- 2018 – Leaves 7 Bury Street. Opens small by-appointment space at 19 Ryder Street.