Gallery Red in Palma. | Phoenix Media

Just as the world took a dramatic leap into the digital age, Drew Aaron was contemplating semi-retirement. His family business, which he controlled, had just been sold and he was reviewing a bunch of different business possibilities to which his extensive experience as a CEO could be applied; but he was seriously contemplating a quieter life … a life which would afford him time to pursue his interest as a collector of contemporary art.

Fast forward to 2023 and Drew Aaron is now the driving force behind multiple successful businesses here in Mallorca: Lionsgate Capital, ( the top mortgage advisory firm in Mallorca, Rouge Mallorca – the most high end luxury boutique here in Palma selling the most coveted collectables from brands such as Hermes and Chanel and finally Gallery Red, a series of galleries spaces and installations selling beautiful art from the top local and emerging artists to the most prestigious international established artists from around the world.

So Drew, Mallorca is a long way from your native usa, how did you end up here?

“My wife and I had travelled all over the world together; we lived in Paris for a while, spent time in Asia and then about 15 years ago we first came to Mallorca. We had a great time and every summer we came back to visit a different part of the island and fell more and more in love with Mallorca. We also noticed over the years how the island was growing; the culture, fabulous new restaurants, great schools, and importantly for us, well connected flights. We suddenly realised that Mallorca could be the perfect place for us to settle and as we got more serious and started looking at schools etc., everything came together.”

How did you become involved with Lionsgate Capital?

“I soon realised although there were over 1000 real estate agents in Mallorca, there was no financial intermediary institution or equivalent in the Balearics, particularly for the high-end property market, to assist non-residents to raise finance at a low rate and also deal with personal wealth tax issues. From personal experience, I could see the inherent problems, particularly for non-Spanish speaking clients. So, I met with Juanita Casanas, a Director of one of the largest banks in Spain and we shared our thoughts about the need for a bespoke mortgage brokerage firm that could offer a rapid response with the best rates, conditions, and excellent customer service. Lionsgate Capital was launched in 2016 and from very humble beginnings, we have grown into the largest luxury financing firm, not just in the Balearics, but throughout southern Spain.”

How many employees do you have now?

“The Lionsgate Capital group of companies now has a team of 30 employees throughout the different businesses. We are very proud to have built an amazing team of professionals who work hard and are passionate about what they do.”

I know you have a personal passion for art, but how did you become owner of Gallery Red?

“In 2017 I had been buying a lot of art for the rustic finca we live in. Rather than fill it with Warhol and Basquiat, we tried to be as authentic as possible and purchase pieces exclusively from Spanish artists; some are well known, some are emerging and many are from Mallorca. It’s nice because we don’t have to worry about expensive art and security and we can raise our kids to learn about different artists in a humble and safe environment.”

“Then in 2018, one of the owners of a local Palma based gallery came to meet us at Lionsgate; I thought she had come to sell me some art, but instead she told me she was leaving Mallorca to care for her 90 year-old mother in Barcelona and asked me if I wanted to buy her gallery. At first, I said absolutely not… I love art and I have a lot of friends who are dealers or gallerists, but I didn’t know anything about running a gallery… so thank you but no thank you. The rest as they say is history!“

What appealed when you started collecting art and how do you decide today what to put in the gallery?

“Before we launched Gallery Red, when we first started collecting art 20 years ago, we focussed on blue-chip artists like Warhol, Basquiat, Hirst, Picasso etc. Today, it is all about emerging artists, and very specifically Spanish artists.

Who would you say is the artist to look out for and why? What makes them interesting to you?

“It depends. First, I have to love the work. If I don’t love the work, I don’t buy the piece, and I need to like the artist as a person. We’ve met some great artists who are incredibly talented, but when we met them, we didn’t think they were the right fit for the Gallery Red family. We want artists who show a natural born talent and potential career progression and people that we enjoy to spend time with. Also, sometimes we need to be a little bit of a life coach and listen to them too. You know, maybe your artist isn’t in a happy spot and they might not want to paint and we like to support them and help them through the difficult times. It’s not as easy as just picking a work here and there, but we really do look after our artists.”

What’s next for Gallery Red? Do you have anything exciting happening?

“Gallery Red curates the art for each of the major private airport lounges in Spain including the Mallorca and Ibiza private airports, which will be the two busiest private airports in the world in the year 2023 according to Bloomberg. Excitingly, we have just signed an agreement which enables us to have more than 50 pieces on view in an exclusive space which will be seen by more than 1 million visitors per year. This will be Gallery Red’s version of a private museum. This really is a game changer for us and should put Gallery Red on the art map worldwide.”

Tell me about Rouge Mallorca… what is it that you do?

“Rouge Mallorca is a luxury retail store, offering brand new top collectible watches, bags and accessories from the most exclusive brands such as Chanel, Hermes, Rolex and Louis Vuitton. The products we have in our store on Paseo del Borne, can’t be bought in the New York, Dubai, London or Hong Kong flagship stores. We have the rare collectible items that people who are on holiday, or living in Mallorca want to buy but can’t procure in other major cities around the world.

Why do we perceive these things as being so valuable?

“I think that the luxury brands have been very smart in not flooding the market with products. The difference between Hermes and Chanel, compared to some of the other brands out there, is that the products are not for sale on the internet; you have to go to a store to buy them so products are scarce, ensuring exclusivity.”

Define what luxury means to you?

“To me, luxury is being able to live in a safe place and enjoy quality time with my family. To be able to eat breakfast with my wife and kids and for us to be able to drop them off at school and make memories with them. I would also define luxury as Mallorca, and I don’t only mean 5* Hotels, Michelin star restaurants and Art Galleries, Mallorca has an immense culture, beautiful nature, quality of life and is a very special place, we feel incredibly grateful to live here.”

What is next for Drew Aaron?

“My wife, Hana Soukupova and I are extremely passionate about nature and that’s why we are very involved in Mallorca Preservation, not just financially but also with our time and encouraging our kids to participate in beach clean ups, collecting plastic and trash to take care of this beautiful island we live on. There is a new generation of people who share the same love and respect for the island as the locals. This is something I believe in very strongly. With regards to business, we have many exciting new projects in the pipeline so who knows what’s next!”

Drew’s retirement may not be going exactly how he planned, but he tells me that he is finally seeing a little light at the end of the tunnel. With the help of a great team around him, he manages to get home in time for dinner with the family most days and he is making it to all of the school plays. He is in a good place enjoying life to the max in Mallorca.