New Kids on the Block: Hemingway African Gallery & Safaris

You will have a hard time finding a cooler family business than Hemingway African Gallery & Safaris. And it comes with an only-in-New-York 1970s backstory complete with Norman Mailer reference.

So to start at the start: Brian Gaisford comes from South Africa to the States in ’75 and he is playing tennis in Central Park, as one does, when he meets Greg Hemingway, Papa’s youngest son. Greg had just written a memoir about his father and their strained relationship; Brian offers to make him a party, and he rents a room at the Manhattan Art & Antiques Center and decorates it with his hometown décor. Someone at the party says you should open a gallery – and so he does.

Folks also ask him to take them to Africa, which he does, and that launches the safari business. Down the road, he also takes his kids, Logan and Tuck, on safari and, well, how would that *not* be character forming? The two are raised in Brooklyn and go to St. Ann’s, and now in their late 20s/early 30s, both work for Brian. Logan joined right after college and along the way earned a master’s in art conservation; Tuck spent every summer in Africa starting at age 7 and by 11, had his ranger training. Not long after he was leading his own trips.

I only met the kids, but the father sounds like a legend. He’s been in every country on the African continent except Nigeria and has led 150 safaris. He doesn’t have a permanent lodge, but instead likes to be able to customize each trip and work with the same local guides as he has for decades. (Says Tuck: “In the bush, your word goes a long way.”) The mission is also part wildlife conservation. They don’t have a non-profit, but instead make connections, help conservationists navigate the bush and hold regular conservation events in the gallery.

Tuck insists that you don’t have to spend 20 grand to go on safari. Their trips run the gamut in price, and should not be considered only as the once-in-a-lifetime splurge. “We like the real Africa,” he said. And where was Brian now? in the interior of Botswana – “literally the middle of nowhere.”

And then there’s the art: it ranges from collectibles – the classic masks and figurines but also wagon wheels that are hundreds of years old and other truly unique items — to contemporary art — iron sculptures carved with a hammer and chisel and fish puppets from the Bozo tribe in Mali. Some pieces are made new for export; the collectibles are purchased directly by the gallery so the Gaisfords know where each piece comes from. (Fun fact: Edward Albee was a longtime customer, so the art you see in his apartment still — for sale now on Harrison — came from Hemingway.)

“We buy stuff we like,” said Logan. (Their own apartments, she said, look pretty much like a version of the gallery.) “It doesn’t have to [insert air quotes here] look African. Many of the artists are not school taught, but the craftsmanship is handed down through the generations. And what you get is just amazing modern art.”

Hemingway African Gallery & Safaris
88 Leonard Street



  1. What an interesting story. Great writeup and I’d definitely like to check out the place.

  2. I’ve been to the gallery. Wonderful collection.