We’re hearing a lot about immigrants these days and Jeff Jaffe is certainly someone who came to the U.S. in search of a better life. Jeff grew up in South Africa during the apartheid era and was no stranger to the social injustice happening all around him. At that time, all male high school graduates were enlisted into the military to fight against the “communist threat.”
At age 20, he left South Africa after his military service ended with only $100 in his pocket. Fast forward to 1997 when he opened Pop International Galleries on the Bowery in New York City. He remembers selling his first major painting, a Keith Haring, for $150,000. Today that painting would easily get $5 or $6 million.
Jeff earned an MFA in sculpture from the prestigious Cranbrook Academy of Art near Detroit He has a unique point of view as an artist and a gallery owner. To this day, he has never signed formal written agreements with the artists he represents – everything is done with a handshake.
Jeff talks with Woman Around Town’s Editor Charlene Giannetti about his journey from South Africa to New York and Pop International Galleries.