Vice buys Dasha Zhukova’s Garage art mag

Dasha Zhukova

Dasha Zhukova

Vice Media has acquired a controlling stake in Garage Magazine, an art and culture publication founded by Dasha Zhukova, the wife of Russian billionaire Roman Abramovich, as the youth brand pushes into contemporary art.

Vice said it would beef up Garage’s online presence, building a digital video channel, expanding its editorial team and launching new international editions. Ms Zhukova, Garage’s editor-in-chief, will continue in her role. Terms of the deal were not disclosed.

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Ms Zhukova and her husband, the owner of Chelsea Football Club, have become big players in the art world with a private collection that includes works by Lucian Freud and Francis Bacon. Ms Zhukova was also a founding partner of Artsy, an online art sales site, alongside Google’s Eric Schmidt and Wendi Deng, Rupert Murdoch’s ex-wife.

Ms Shukova said the deal would “broaden the lens through which our audiences are exposed to art, architecture fashion and design”.

Garage has featured some of the biggest names in contemporary art, often in a fashion setting: a Damien Hirst-designed crotch tattoo of a butterfly appeared on the cover of the first issue, while the artist Dinos Chapman arranged a fashion shoot with clothes supplied by Marc Jacobs.

The magazine is named after Moscow’s Garage Museum of Contemporary Art, the city’s equivalent of London’s Tate Modern museum. It has hosted exhibitions by artists such as Mark Rothko, Antony Gormley and Urs Fischer. Ms Zhukova founded the museum eight years ago, in an abandoned 1920s bus depot. Last year, it moved to a Rem Koolhaus-designed building in Moscow’s Gorky Park.

Vice’s interest in the art world follows the recent investment in Frieze, the prestigious London art fair and publisher, by WME-IMG, the sports, marketing and entertainment group run by Ari Emanuel and Patrick Whitesell.

Tom Punch, Vice’s global executive creative director, said the magazine would generate “an arsenal of creative ideas” for the company.

With Garage, Vice will follow a template it set four years ago when it acquired i-D, a fashion magazine, and relaunched it as a digital video brand. The connection with one of Russia’s most powerful couples is among several international agreements the company has struck in recent months. Last month, it completed content and distribution deals for its television programming with seven media groups across Asia, Africa and the Middle East.

Vice recently launched its first cable channel — Viceland — in the US, but it has struggled with low ratings. However, this has not slowed the licensing deals it has agreed for its content.

Vice has partnered with the Times Group of India to launch online, mobile and TV content in the country, with plans to hire hundreds of local journalists, producers and filmmakers at a new production headquarters in Mumbai.

Vice has received investment from media companies that include 21st Century Fox and Walt Disney, which last year doubled its stake to $ 400m, valuing Vice at about $ 4.2bn.

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