Paul Thiebaud; art dealer worked to educate public

Associated Press / July 2, 2010

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SACRAMENTO — Paul Thiebaud, a prominent art dealer who owned galleries in San Francisco and New York, has died.

He was 49.

Mr. Thiebaud died of colon cancer Saturday at a Sacramento hospital, according to Kelly Purcell, director of his gallery.

The son of Wayne Thiebaud, an acclaimed Sacramento artist, Mr. Thiebaud started his career at Christie’s auction house in New York, then became a partner with San Francisco dealer Charles Campbell in 1990 at a gallery featuring the work of Bay area artists.

By 2001, Mr. Thiebaud had opened his own gallery in San Francisco.

He later opened a second gallery in New York and a by-appointment gallery in Sacramento.

Mr. Thiebaud handled the work of recognized artists, including his father, but he was known for promoting lesser-known talents by showing their work and recommending them to collectors who sought his advice, Purcell said.

“He firmly believed in giving opportunity to artists who might not have the ability to get their work out there,’’ Purcell said.

Mr. Thiebaud also believed it was a gallery’s duty to educate the public and give viewers the chance to see art they might not otherwise encounter. This meant occasionally organizing exhibitions that were not revenue generating.

“He was willing to undertake those shows just for the benefit of the visitor to the gallery, for their enjoyment,’’ Purcell said.

Mr. Thiebaud also gave to charities and encouraged customers to get involved by giving them a discount and recommending that they donate the difference to Little Wishes, a foundation that gives to hospitalized children, Purcell said.

“He was an extremely benevolent and altruistic individual at all levels and really tied that into his art dealing,’’ Purcell said.

Mr. Thiebaud had a degree in international relations from the University of California, Davis.

He lived in his native Sacramento in proximity to his extended family, but traveled widely to visit exhibitions and auctions and to advise collectors.

He leaves his wife, Karen, and two daughters.