The firm that negotiates for actors like Angelina Jolie and Harrison Ford is launching a fine arts division
The Beverly Hills-based United Talent Agency, which represents celebrities including Barbra Streisand, Angelina Jolie and Harrison Ford, has become the first talent and literary agency to make a play for the art world. It has launched a new division called UTA Fine Arts to manage the careers of sculptors, painters and photographers in much the same way it advises actors, musicians, screenwriters and directors.
The former art lawyer Joshua Roth (whose father, Steven Roth, is a co-founder of the talent agency CAA) has been appointed to lead the group. Although the agency does not intend to broker sales of works, it will take on other tasks traditionally managed by commercial galleries. Agents will negotiate financing for artists’ projects, oversee public and private commissions and identify corporate partnerships. The division also plans to lead clients into terrain that is unfamiliar to artists but par for the course in Hollywood: agents will develop digital distribution platforms for artists’ work and broker potentially lucrative licensing and endorsement deals.
The art division is the brainchild of the agency’s chief executive Jeremy Zimmer and its chairman Jim Berkus (both of whom are art collectors themselves). The company hired Roth, who has worked as a lawyer for artists including Mark Grotjahn and Sterling Ruby, at the end of last year. “We believe there is room for a serious, professional representation structure in the art world, one that helps artists gain greater control of their careers and opens the doors to new and better opportunities,” Roth says in a statement.
UTA Fine Arts plans to charge artists a 10% fee for projects it initiates, according to the Wall Street Journal. It is unclear to what extent artists will embrace the unfamiliar agency model and whether it will conflict with more traditional gallery representation. UTA Fine Arts has not yet signed any visual artists to its roster, though its other divisions represent a handful of art world-adjacent figures, including the actress Tilda Swinton and the film director and artist Sam Taylor-Wood.