The devastating fire at a prominent Seattle gallery claimed over a hundred priceless artworks, including “irreplaceable” pieces by historically significant artists.
The fire broke out early Friday morning when a warming fire in an alleyway unintentionally extended inside Davidson Galleries.
The gallery’s manager, Rachel McDonald, said the establishment has 16,000 works, with individual values ranging from $20,000 to $28,000. Among those paintings, at least two etchings by Rembrandt and Picasso were damaged or destroyed, according to McDonald.
McDonald said that although they have insurance, their passion for the work and the art keeps them going.
“We are saddened by it. This is artwork that cannot be replaced,” McDonald told reporters, her voice quivering.
According to Paige McCray, the manager of the gallery’s collections, around fifty to seventy-five items are now considered damaged beyond repair.
Davidson Galleries, which celebrated its 50th anniversary, had announced intentions to move out of its longstanding premises before the tragic incident.
There was a slight upside to the tragic event. According to McDonald, some works were already relocated before the fire started. On the downside, other works were left more exposed than usual because of the preparations.
The building’s security firm alerted the gallery manager to the alarm at about 6:30 in the morning.
Everyone knew they were exhibiting paper works in an art gallery. Consequently, they took great care to ensure water was not sprayed in unnecessary areas during the firefighting. They were instrumental in retrieving artwork from storage and transferring it outside to safekeeping when the fire was controlled.
Local artist Aidan Sakakini, who came to lend a hand, described the sight later in the morning when firemen hauled recovered pieces outdoors in stacks of flat files and put them on the ground.
Photos also revealed that the gallery’s windows were covered with soot.
Davidson Galleries also represents Charles Spitzack, a local artist who has said that he is more concerned with supporting the gallery than determining his work’s fate.