A fire that broke out in a Seattle gallery on Friday is feared to have destroyed works on paper by renowned artists Picasso, Goya, and Rembrandt. The Seattle Fire Department suspects the fire was started by someone in an alley behind the gallery trying to keep warm, which then spread to the three-story building. Although no injuries were reported, several valuable pieces in the Davidson Galleries collection were damaged or destroyed, according to gallery manager Rebecca McDonald.
McDonald expressed hope that much of the work could be saved, but noted that it would take weeks to determine the full extent of the damage. The gallery, known for selling works on paper, had been preparing to move most of its inventory to a new location, leaving many pieces unusually vulnerable.
Gallery owner Sam Davidson expressed his deepest regret for the contemporary artists who had entrusted their works to the gallery. He described the scene as dramatic and blackened by the fire.
Despite the damage, the gallery team shared on social media that some artworks were only smoke-damaged and that the damage was not as extensive as initially feared. They expressed hope that most of their inventory could be preserved.
CNN affiliate Kiro 7 reported that many works were protected from smoke damage by rag mats and mylar sheets. The firefighters’ preservation efforts while fighting the fire were commended by the gallery. Davidson praised the art community for their unity in times of need.