Millions of dollars in PPP loans have been forgiven for Jeff Koons, Pace and other art world heavyweights

Jared Kushner, Jay Z and Reese Witherspoon recently made headlines with the release of a new one ProPublica database Listing all 11.5 million loans approved by the US government under its $953 million Emergency Payment Protection Program (PPP).

The scheme, a pandemic-era measure meant to keep the economy stable amid the extreme uncertainty of an early lockdown, allowed entrepreneurs with fewer than 500 employees to apply for loans to be used to pay their employees and other essential expenses. reports show that 93 percent of beneficiaries actually received them.

As expected, the government forgave much of the credit, even for borrowers with immense net worth, as long as the funds were used for payroll or other approved expenses.

In the art world, Jeff Koons was perhaps the biggest name to receive a major PPP loan, the world’s most expensive artist to be auctioned. He secured $1.1 million for his surgery on April 27, 2020. According to public documents, the entire loan was forgiven seven months later.

But Koons wasn’t the only art world figure to secure PPP funds. Blue-chip mega galleries including David Zwirner ($6.9 million), Hauser & Wirth ($4.5 million), Gagosian ($3.5 million) and Pace ($3.4 million) each received Loans, each of which has been forgiven in full, plus accrued interest.

Among them, only David Zwirner and Hauser and Wirth applied for more than one loan, each securing four separate rounds of funding.

In a statement, a Pace representative said: “Pace has participated in the Paycheck Protection Program to protect our employees’ jobs in the face of the global health pandemic and the economic hardship it is bringing. All the money from the loan went towards employee salaries.”

We have reached out to every other institution mentioned in this article; none responded to our request for comment by the time of publication.

Smaller galleries have also applied for and received funding. Jack Shainman Gallery, Blum and Poe and Kasmin have each taken between $350,000 and $1 million and forgiven the loans entirely. Luhring Augustine and Matthew Marks also applied for credit and received $181,500 and $401,852, respectively.

The Marlborough Gallery, meanwhile, received $602,900, but whether their loan was forgiven is not disclosed in the ProPublica papers. Artnet also applied for and received $2 million in three separate loans, all of which were forgiven.

According to a January 2022 report by the National Office for Economic Research, 75 percent of the nearly $800 billion in taxpayer money from the PPP program went to the top 20 percent of households. Only a fraction of the sum went to workers who would otherwise have lost their jobs.

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