Art Meets Luxury Lifestyle at a Gallery’s Sunny New Location

MAHÓN, Spain — As the total wealth held by billionaires hits a high of more than $10 trillion, it is also an epic time for luxury lifestyle tourism.

Only days after Virgin Galactic launched Richard Branson into interstellar travel, an unlikely art center was inaugurated Saturday on the Spanish islet of Isla del Rey off Menorca — gathering contemporary art lovers to celebrate the latest project by the Swiss-owned art dealership Hauser & Wirth.

While the small island, abandoned in the 1960s after serving as the site of a military hospital, is not the kind of place that traditionally attracts wealthy collectors, Hauser & Wirth is determined to change this. The international mega-gallery has been fast expanding its core business by also offering its clientele the kind of lifestyle experience that comes from visiting a remote, unique location.

Dominated by its 18th-century hospital, the islet stands in the middle of the Mediterranean’s largest natural harbor, 15 minutes by boat from Mahón, Menorca’s capital. Hauser & Wirth has leased part of the islet’s land from a local volunteer foundation that has been working on restoring the hospital for nearly two decades.

While it was seeking approval from the local Spanish authorities, the Swiss gallery — founded in 1992 by Iwan Wirth; his wife, Manuela Wirth; and her mother, Ursula Hauser — invited a delegation from Menorca to visit another of their projects, in Somerset, England. With Hauser & Wirth Somerset, the gallery turned the little-known village of Bruton into an art destination. Opened in 2014, the complex attracted more than 110,000 visitors in the year before the pandemic hit, said Chloe Kinsman, a Hauser & Wirth spokeswoman.

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