It is mid-morning in Cabo, Mexico,and Jay Rutland appears tanned and smiling on Zoom from his hotel room. Admitting that his family didn’t factor in a work interview today as it’s his birthday, he also confesses to having himself forgotten, so has kindly set aside time to speak to SPHERE.
An ex-stockbroker turned property developer from Essex, Rutland has been the creative director of Maddox since 2015. The powerhouse global art brand counts London and Los Angeles among its five international locations, and represents 12 of its own artists, including The Connor Brothers,David Yarrow and Dawn Okoro, who recently had a sell-out exhibition. Since around 2017,Maddox has also provided a secondary market for leading names such as Andy Warhol, Banksy, Stik and Harland Miller.
With an early interest in art honed by family trips to the Louvre, Rutland’s collecting career began in the early 2000s, when his brother-in-law started collecting Banksy’s work. His love of art investment was then cemented when he paid approximately £3,000 for the artist’s Rude Copper (a piece now worth around £50,000) and he remains a keen collector to this day.
His role at Maddox involves strategic development, cultivating relationships with artists and envisaging exhibitions. He also tracks down new talent, often on the most modern medium of choice: Instagram. “Something that has changed in the past five years is that we find so many artists now on social media,” he says. “I discovered the artist Cooper [an Indiana-based painter known for his contemporary take on flowers and nature] for the first time on social media. We connected on Instagram, spoke on Zoom, and then I flew him to London. We’re planning a solo show in October.” Like many brands, from Tag Heuer to Gucci, the art market is thinking of ways to draw in early adopters, building up a loyal base of young followers who — one day — will hopefully be able to buy the big stuff. Rutland is doing just this by pioneering cutting-edge young artists such as Lefty Out There and Yuki Aruga. With 2021 highlights including Jerkface’s sell-out show, Maddox continues to go from strength to strength this year with Seb Chaumeton, Cooper and Ross Muir (see feature on page 46). One of the biggest shifts for the gallery has been meeting demand for photography.
“The photography market has seen a huge boom,” says Rutland. “David Yarrow is one of our most successful photographers, as well as Terry O’Neill — everyone loves his old-school glamour.”It has also had to navigate the rising trend of NFTs — non-fungible tokens, aka digital art — which Rutland feels might be the emperor’s new clothes of the art world. “I don’t really get it. I think a lot of it is built on hype and artists just trying to build up discord groups. I do, however, think that eventually every artwork will come with an NFT as its certificate of authenticity. This I like, as it will mean artists will be rewarded every time an artwork they created resells.”The pieces adorning Rutland’s Kensington home offer a roll call of well-known names — an Andy Warhol Chanel No. 5 hangs in his bedroom and a Damien Hirst Spot painting greets guests in his hall. While he describes his wife Tamara Ecclestone, daughter of ex-Formula 1 chief Bernie, as having “more sparkly” taste than him, the couple both love the bespoke Tracey Emin neon in their living room. Commissioned by Tamara’s sister Petra, the piece declares: Tamara and Jay Forever. Another joint favourite is Harland Miller’s Love Saves The Day, which Rutland bought for his wife’s birthday.When he is not flying around the world to meet artists or arranging exhibitions, he spends his downtime in favourite spots such as Mexico’s Las Ventanas al Paraíso, a Rosewood Resort, or in the mountains in Gstaad, Switzerland, where the family has a home. Rutland has two daughters — Sophia, 7, and Serena, 1 — and Sophia is already taking a keen interest in art, with KAWS a particular favourite.
He is also a keen reader — currently on his must-read list are Boom, an inside take on the contemporary art world, and The Psychopath Test by journalist Jon Ronson. Rutland is intent on building Maddox’s reputation as one of the world’s most successful galleries. This involves continuing to nurture young talent and attract a new generation of collectors. He also takes considerable pride in the growth and success of Maddox’s Art Advisory arm. With five consecutive years of double-digit returns for clients investing in artworks recommended by the advisory team, this is a key area of the business for the coming year. “Six years ago when Maddox was founded, the idea of investing in art was still slightly frowned upon. Now, in 2022, there has been a complete change in perception, and everyone wants to get involved. In my opinion, no investment portfolio is complete without at least some exposure in art.”