Anna Weyant has become the toast of the art world after several of her works fetched more than $1 million at auction last year, but it’s not just her paintings that have raised her profile.
The figurative painter, 27, set tongues wagging after news broke that she is in a relationship with legendary gallerist Larry Gagosian, 77, who also happens to be her art dealer.
Weyant had already been dating Gagosian for about a year when she made the switch to his global network of art galleries last May following her bitter fall-out with her former art dealer Tim Blum of Blum & Poe.
The artist, who was born and raised in Canada, was discovered on Instagram after previously selling her work on a sidewalk for around $400. Her paintings have earned comparisons to Dutch Golden Age masters, as well as contemporary artists such as John Currin.
Weyant was profiled by the Wall Street Journal last year, a month after one of her paintings was auctioned off for $1.6 million. The newspaper dubbed her a ‘millennial Botticelli.’
The art prodigy and her art dealer boyfriend were spotted arriving in New York City aboard a private helicopter this week. Weyant, who was smiling brightly, was carrying an Hermès Birkin bag estimated to be worth roughly $75,000.
Following the couple’s rare sighting, FEMAIL has taken a look back at the artist’s incredible rise to stardom, from her studies at the Rhode Island School of Design to her sold-out art exhibitions.
Where it all began: Inside Anna’s idyllic childhood in Canada and art school in the U.S.
Born in 1995, Weyant was raised in Calgary, Alberta, in Canada, the daughter of a lawyer and a provincial court judge.
In a 2021 interview with Artnet News, she described her childhood spent with her parents, her brother, and their dog as being ‘idyllic in a lot of ways.’
Far from having an artistic upbringing, the prodigy had little exposure to art or art history growing up.
She told the Wall Street Journal that the only paintings in her childhood home were her grandfather’s flea-market purchases. However, years later, she would channel her youth into her artwork featuring girls grappling with the pains of adolescence.
‘It’s something I’ve been going back to through art over the last few years, my childhood and teen years and getting to where I am now,’ she told Artnet News.
‘I just recently found this old diary that I had written when I was like 13,’ she added. ‘And like every other 13-year-old, I was a monster in so many ways.
‘One of the entries said something to the effect of, “I had just been asked out by some boy, and then the next day he dumped me, and he was the love of my life and I was so heartbroken.”
‘And then I signed it by saying this girl — we’ll call her Stacey — “looked so fat today.” Then, “Xo, Anna.” Woe is me, I have this horrible breakup and then I burn someone down in the same breath.’
Weyant still didn’t know much about art when she attended the Rhode Island School of Design, where she honed her painting skills. She admitted to the Journal that she chose the school primarily because it was the closest one to New York City that had accepted her.
She entered her freshman year without a major in mind, but by the winter, she found her niche in painting. That summer, she entered an art contest held by the National Gallery of Canada and placed in the top three.
‘The first John Currin painting I saw was at a show called She at Brown University,’ she told Juxtapoz of her early influences. ‘It was probably 2014, and I was just, like, “This is what I want to do.” It was hilarious. It was this busty woman standing behind this guy in his shadow, and it was so off-putting and so amazing.’
In 2017, Weyant graduated with a Bachelor of Fine Arts from RISD and moved to New York City, where she briefly worked as an event planner for Lincoln Center.
‘It was great, but I just could not do the 9 a.m. mornings,’ she told Artnet News.
Following her stint in event planning, she spent seven months painting at the China Academy of Art in Hangzhou. Speaking with the Journal, she recalled how the city’s sepia-tone terrain influenced her now-signature muted palette.
Weyant explained to Artnet News that she ‘really loved’ being in China, but she ultimately left because she ‘just could not get a grasp on Mandarin.’
Big break! Artist lands a job as a studio assistant in New York City
Weyant moved back to New York City in the spring of 2018, and with the help of a former professor, she scored a gig as a studio assistant to pointillist painter Cynthia Talmadge.
After a day of work, she would come home to her apartment on the Upper West Side and spend her evenings painting.
‘I remember it being fun, but just kind of a little depressing,’ she told Artnet News.
Weyant was discovered on Instagram thanks in part to Talmadge, who graciously promoted her work on her own page.
In October 2018, her boss posted three of her paintings, including ‘Reposing V,’ which depicts a young woman lying on a bed in a white bathrobe with one leg propped in the air.
Talmadge also introduced the young artist to her dealer Ellie Rines, owner of 56 Henry in New York, which would later become Weyant’s first gallery.
‘I went to [Weyant’s] studio, and her paintings had this chiaroscuro technique that I thought was really astounding,’ Rines told Artnet News. ‘She was able to make these really flat, gorgeous surfaces, and I was really kind of amazed.
‘She would improve drastically every few months. She was very dutiful about being in her studio painting all night. Anna’s someone who really loves painting and who really cares about the quality of the painting.’
Rines helped Weyant make some of her first sales in the summer of 2019, laying out her paintings on a sidewalk at a Hamptons art fair, selling a few for $400 apiece.
‘Millennial Botticelli’: Meteoric rise to art world fame
Weyant’s first solo show was held at 56 Henry from September to November 2019.
The exhibition was titled ‘Welcome To The Dollhouse’ — a nod to Todd Solondz’s 1995 black comedy about an unpopular teenage girl in suburbia.
The dozen paintings that debuted at the gallery feature depictions of young girls in the throes of adolescence, as well as an actual dollhouse based on the one that she had as a child.
In an interview with Half Gallery owner Bill Powers that was published by Autre, Weyant explained that her dollhouse paintings — ‘Anatomy of Small House’ and ‘Let There be (Some) Light’ — were more of an ‘homage to Robert Gober’ rather than an overt reference to her childhood.
‘I love when you see dollhouses in murder mysteries or horror movies. They are never used as symbols of comfort. It’s always a bad omen somehow,’ she said. ‘And it’s weird how when you paint something in miniature it creates a kind of emotional distance that lets you get freakier with the particulars: a set of legs poking out from under a bed.’
Another oil painting from the show, titled ‘Some Dolls Are Bigger than Others,’ depicts a girl stuffing her bra with tissues, which Weyant could relate to.
‘I can remember being a little girl and wanting boobs and craving the power of womanhood,’ she told Powers. ‘I imagined a level of agency and confidence that I would one day inhabit, which — if I’m being honest — eludes me even now.
‘So those paintings are about looking back. And then, sometimes I like to make companion paintings so the girl stuffing her bra might be the same person we see in my painting “Head,” which is heavy on cleavage.’
Gagosian described that series as ‘a sequence of darkly cinematic vignettes depicting a dollhouse and the strange, cloistered lives of its inhabitants.’ The show sold out, with every piece going for between $2,000 to $12,000.
By the spring of 2021, Weyant was being exclusively represented by the Los Angeles gallery Blum & Poe, and some of her paintings were selling for nearly $50,000 apiece.
Her sold-out show ‘Loose Screw’ was held at the gallery from March to May 2021. The name of the exhibition is also the name of the first painting she made for it.
‘Loose Screw’ shows a blonde woman chatting with a friend over a glass of wine, her chin resting on her propped hand. She is dressed in a fur-lined dress and a pearl bracelet, but her wrist is wrapped in a bandage.
‘Some people assume it’s a self-portrait, but I was actually thinking about Ellen Birkenblit’s screaming woman series, that type of silhouette,’ Weyant said in her interview with Powers. ‘I liked the title because it’s kind of a joke on me, but when I told my mom she was like, “Honey, don’t ruin your show with such an ugly name.”‘
Weyant parted ways with Blum & Poe in February 2022. By May, it was announced that she had signed a global representation agreement with Gagosian Gallery.
Weathering the storm of scandal: Anna goes through bitter split with former art dealer
Weyant’s falling out with her former gallery Blum & Poe has also been a source of speculation in the art world.
In her interview with the Wall Street Journal last year, she declined to discuss the breakdown of her relationship with Blum & Poe because she was unhappy with how it ended.
However, a friend of the artist told the newspaper that Weyant felt unsettled after allowing Blum & Poe staffers to buy three paintings and a drawing from her Los Angeles show in 2021.
The source also alleged that Weyant told her that the dealers kept the works for themselves while telling significant collectors her show was sold out.
The artist said she sold Blum her painting ‘Falling Woman’ for $15,000 — only half what his gallery was charging collectors for other works in the show.
As interest in her paintings soared, Blum then sent the painting to Sotheby’s for auction, which some insiders have called a ‘revenge consignment.’
Blum didn’t break any rules in doing so, although dealers don’t usually consign their own artist’s paintings to auction.
In May 2022, ‘Falling Woman’ fetched $1.6 million, a record for her work, although she didn’t profit from it.
Weyant explained to the Journal that artists in the U.S. don’t automatically get royalties from auction resales.
She added that Blum’s alleged consignment was the final straw that led her to announce that she had moved to Gagosian Gallery in May 2022.
The man who ‘protects her from the big bad wolves’: Inside artist’s high-profile relationship with famed art dealer Larry Gagosian
Gagosian, a longtime bachelor whose net worth is an estimated $600 million, was introduced to Weyant’s work after her first solo exhibition at 56 Henry.
Powers pulled up her paintings on his cellphone and had the art dealer scroll through them, according to the Journal.
Gagosian, who would later become her boyfriend, called her work ‘refined and imaginative, saying, ‘I loved the clarity and moodiness of it.’
He purchased the artist’s painting ‘Head’ at 56 Henry and hung it in his home.
Although Powers put Weyant on Gagosian’s radar, he credited her first dealer, Rines, with discovering her.
‘When I brokered the sale of [Weyant’s] first painting to Larry Gagosian, I actually handed that deal off to Ellie, and Ellie made the sale,’ he told the Daily Beast.
After attending Weyant’s spring 2021 show, Gagosian invited her to have dinner at his Beverly Hills mansion, and they immediately hit it off.
‘She wanted to know if I had any gin,’ he told the Journal. ‘That’s one of my favorite things to drink.’
Gagosian and Weyant were soon dating and vacationing together in exotic locales such as Paris and Saint-Tropez, but she tried to remain grounded and stick to her normal routine as much as possible.
At the time of her interview with the Wall Street Journal last summer, she was still living and working in her modest one-bedroom apartment on New York’s Upper West Side, where she had resided since moving to the city.
Weyant’s relationship with Gagosian, who is 50 years her senior, has courted plenty of gossip and speculation amongst art world insiders.
Art adviser Vasili Kaliman is among those who believe her high-profile relationship contributed to her quick rise to fame, although he noted that she is ‘quite good.’
‘I think she would have been successful without being Larry Gagosian’s girlfriend, but the ascent wouldn’t have happened with such speed,’ he explained to the Daily Beast.
However, Weyant’s allies harshly denounce any speculation that her romance with the legendary gallerist has given her a leg up in the cutthroat art world.
‘When someone becomes successful, people kind of forget that that’s a human being,’ Rines told the Daily Beast. ‘She’s a 27-year-old woman, and I think it’s really wild that men, mostly middle-aged men, are spreading all these rumors about her. I think it’s so pathetic.’
Prior to dating Weyant, Gagosian and his longtime girlfriend, Chrissie Erpf, a senior director at the gallery, split in 2019. That year, he also briefly dated Holly Bawden, his 35-year-old former personal assistant, Page Six reported.
Gagosian told the Journal that he had never dated an artist before Weyant, saying they initially questioned whether she should join his gallery because they were both concerned about how it would look.
Ultimately, he felt he could help get her pieces into museums, and when it comes to discussions about her career, he insisted that he treats her the same as his other artists.
‘She’s intelligent and has this Midwestern reserve, and she doesn’t speak all the art lingo,’ he said. ‘I’m just trying to protect her from the big bad wolves.’
Gagosian and Weyant were most recently seen in New York together on March 19, 2023, after arriving in the city aboard a private helicopter.
Name in lights: Making her debut at Gagosian Gallery
Weyant had her highly-anticipated first exhibition with Gagosian Gallery in November 2022.
Titled ‘Baby, It Ain’t Over Till It’s Over,’ the show featured seven new works, as well as several sketches and studies, at the gallery’s Upper East Side location.
There was a huge crowd and a number of celebrity guests at the opening, including tennis star Venus Williams and influencer Eileen Kelly, both of whom served as the artist’s subjects.
Weyant, who is the youngest artist to ever get a solo exhibition at Gagosian, was met with roaring applause when she arrived, according to The Art Insider.
‘This one feels really personal for a million different reasons,’ she told Cultured of the show. ‘I guess I just liked the idea of having these girls take up so much space.’
However, the reviews were mixed, with one ARTNews critic dubbing her Gagosian debut show an ‘overly safe dud.’
Months before Weyant made her Gagosian debut, she admitted that the soaring auction sale prices of work made her uneasy.
‘People kept congratulating me,’ she said of the Christie’s auction of her painting ‘Summertime,’ which resold for $1.5 million after being purchased for around $12,000 two years before. ‘All I felt was pressure.’