Manuela and Iwan Wirth, owners of mega-gallery Hauser & Wirth, have bought a swanky private club in London with a short but ornate history and a collection of 150 works of art.
The Groucho Club was purchased through Art Farm, the hospitality arm of the Wirths, which owns a group of boutique hotels and restaurants. Among these restaurants is Manuela, a restaurant located in the Hauser & Wirth gallery in Los Angeles.
Ewan Venters, CEO of Artfarm and Hauser & Wirth, said in a statement: “As a member for some time, I understand the special place Groucho holds in London’s cultural landscape. Under Artfarm ownership, the club’s future is assured. We will respect the club’s history and traditions, and look forward to engaging with its members to create a long-term future for the Groucho that builds on its eclectic appeal and maverick philosophy.
It was unclear whether Hauser & Wirth would have a relationship with the Groucho Club. Many other companies belonging to Artfarm have no official connection with the gallery.
The 37-year-old club has earned a reputation for exclusivity. It has hosted some of the most prominent members of the British art scene, including artist Damien Hirst, who is said to have partied there when he won the Turner Prize in 1995. The club, whose name refers to the Groucho Marx’s famous remark about not wanting to belong to a club that would have him as a member – accepted women as members at a time when most such businesses were only open to men.
His artistic connections aren’t limited to people in the club’s social network, either. The Groucho Club has a collection of works by famous British artists, including Hirst, Michael Craig-Martin, Tracey Emin, Peter Blake, Yinka Shonibare and Banksy.
The FinancialTimes reported that the club had been acquired by Artfarm for £40m ($48.9m). Groucho membership currently numbers around 5,000.