SAN FRANCISCO ART EXCHANGE LLC
Founded in 1983 by Theron Kabrich and Jim Hartley, SAN FRANCISCO ART EXCHANGE LLC (SFAE) has represented historic Pop Culture artworks created by over 200 of the world's most accomplished and important artists and photographers.
Recognized as market pioneers and premier purveyors of iconic imagery, SFAE has featured over 100 major curated exhibitions highlighting music, film, cultural events, and historic figures.
SFAE is known worldwide for record-breaking sales of album cover related and important artwork from Pop Culture and has successfully represented and sold such revered artworks as the originals for:
Pink Floyd: The Wall, Abbey Road, Meet The Beatles, Rubber Soul, Imagine, Dark Side of the Moon, Wish You Were Here, Ummagumma, Animals, Lamb Lies Down on Broadway, The Best of The Doors, Candy-O and many more.
In addition to these music-related artworks, SFAE has also handled the sale for a number of original movie poster artworks including those created for Cool Hand Luke and The Sting, among others.
SFAE's sale of a complete, 7-piece matched set of The Beatles Abbey Road Album Cover Session by Iain Macmillan at $900,000 stands as the highest price ever paid for Rock & Roll Photography.
And, our sale of the original painting for the Pink Floyd: The Wall movie poster (a.k.a. The Scream) by Gerald Scarfe at $1.85 million, stands as the highest price ever paid worldwide in both the Rock & Roll and Movie Poster Original Artwork categories.
While maintaining its leadership role within the world of Rock & Roll artwork, SFAE is broadly focused on important artwork from all spheres of Popular Culture including film and entertainment, sports, advertising, civil rights, and historical events.
All artworks sold by SFAE are signed by the artist or their estate representative and will be accompanied by a certificate of authenticity. Items ship insured all over the world.
For the curious, we have outlined our journey with some key milestones below:
THE EARLY DAYS OF SFAE LLC
Jim Hartley and Theron Kabrich founded SFAE as a fine art business brokering the work of 20th Century masters such as Picasso, Miró, Chagall, Warhol, Haring, Dalí and others. They soon evolved into promoting more contemporary painters, where they began exploring the importance and value of art and imagery that have become part of the popular consciousness. Rockwell, Nagel, Neiman are good examples of familiar artists who became popular through their commercial work and later went on to become collectible in a fine-art gallery format.
In the 1990s momentum encouraged us to double the size of our gallery to 3000 sq feet. We then began to incorporate Music and Hollywood photography to our makeup as a natural progression to expand the scope of the definition of collectible popular iconography.
in the 21st Century we have continued to expand our focus to representing the work of more than 200 photographers, adding important historical figures and events, along with Athletic superstars and more. Today we are recognized as the global leader in the representation and sale of the fine art of Pop Culture.
We think our early art dealing roots put us in a unique position to appreciate and frame a discussion around the artistic merit, historical importance, cultural significance and, hence, the market value for much of the art and imagery of popular culture that has surrounded us for decades.
Read on to see how it happened!
ALBERTO VARGAS OPENS THE DOOR
In 1985, the Alberto Vargas Estate selected SFAE to represent their vast collection of original works by one of Americaʼs most popularly famous artists of all time. Vargas created incredibly beautiful paintings, widely-known as “Vargas Girls” throughout his long career. He painted for The Ziegfeld Follies, all the major Hollywood studios, Esquire Magazine and Playboy, among many others.
We were entrusted to bring this treasured collection of original artworks to market for the very first time, opening the premiere retrospective during the summer of 1985. Since then we have sold more than $25 million of Alberto Vargas artwork, including original paintings, studies, and limited edition prints. We are the acknowledged authorities on Vargas artworks and the #1 dealer worldwide.
RONNIE WOOD JOINS THE PARTY
Due in part to the immediate success of the Vargas collection, and our growing reputation in the genre of Popular Culture, in 1987 the gallery was approached by the management of Rolling Stones guitarist Ronnie Wood to become the primary distributor and dealer in North America for his new collection of paintings and limited edition prints. He made the great connection that since we had sold millions in great artwork of beautiful Pin Up illustrations, probably most of those collectors would also be fans of Rock & Roll!
Ronnie had a passion for drawing and painting since childhood and attended art school at Ealing in London, and was a serious artist, growing increasingly prolific as he began exploring print-making and continually expanding his repertoire across different media. We hosted our first exhibition with him in 1987 and since then we have amassed a huge number of avid collectors worldwide, with sales in excess of $10 million of his artwork alone. While we no longer act has his distributor, SFAE remains the all-time #1 dealer of his artwork, and his longest standing dealer.
Looking back on how it all happened, we now recognize that the selection of SFAE to represent Ronnie Wood literally launched the modern market for the Art of Rock & Roll. Not only with Ronnie’s artwork but it also inspired many friends and associates of his, especially other artists and photographers in the music realm to reconsider their own archives - many of which had sat in dusty drawers and boxes for decades - and take the leap of faith to offer them as fine-artworks for collectors.
THE PHOTOGRAPHY ERA BEGINS
Our first major photography exhibit featured the work of Annie Leibovitz in April 1989. The exhibition featured nearly 50 portraits of celebrities taken for her award winning American Express campaign (1984-1987). Subjects included musicians, actors, models, politicians, and athletes, all personalities captured in Leibowitz's trademark style. The campaign won a 1988 Clio; The Andy Award for the Best Print Campaign of 1988; The Art Directors Club of New York's Gold Award in Magazine Advertising and Advertising Age's award for the best magazine advertisement of 1987.
The exhibition was co-sponsored and co-hosted by American Express and Esquire Magazine. Annie attended the opening and lectured. (Pictured at right is an example of the exhibition display from another location.)
A FOCUS ON ALBUM COVER IMAGERY
We begin to represent the work of legendary Album Cover artist Roger Dean, who is responsible for a huge number of iconic albums from the late 1960s that continues into the 2020s. He best-known for his fantasy inspired landscapes and creature designs that graced the album covers for Yes, Asia, Uriah Heep, Osibisa, and many others.
MORE TO COME!
1990 - today
...Stay tuned for more!