Top model finds second career as Manhattan art gallery owner

CHELSEA, New York City (WABC) -- New York City has long been a place where people come to reinvent themselves, and frequently, those folks come to my attention on the arts and entertainment beat.

The man you're about to meet hails originally from France and owns an art gallery that bears his name, but Emmanuel Fremin made his way to Manhattan originally as a top model.

Modeling taught him the value of hard work and the art of making it look easy, and Fremin appeared in a TV commercial for Hanes underwear featuring Michael Jordan.

He also sizzled next to Heidi Klum and in his own ads for the likes of Dunhill and Burberry, but by then, he knew his time at the top was almost over.

"When I got to 30 years old, I was thinking, 'What's next for me?'" he said.

He found his answer at his own art gallery in Chelsea.

"Fashion, photography, painting, it's all connected," he said. "So the people I used to work with in fashion, now they collect from me."

Some of those patrons came to the opening of a show by artist Tigran Tsitoghdzyan, who said his work combines painting, photography and drawing on the surface of the piece to express a "feeling of being hidden but also exposed at the same time."

His large works are shown near smaller pieces by Jeff Koons, among others, and Tsitoghdzyan explained his relationship with Fremin is based on mutual respect.

"It's a human connection between an artist and a gallerist," he said. "I think that's what's most important."

What helped Fremin was his decision to save his money and invest it in real estate while he was working as a model.

The future gallery owner got his start posing for artists in his native France, so in a sense, he has really come full circle to take a leap of faith.

"When I do a show, and I don't know if it's going to work, it's scary," he said. "But when it works, it showed me I took the right path."

It's a path the model-turned-gallery owner says could only have happened here.

"When you're in New York and you have a good idea, it works," he said. "In France, this would've been more difficult."

The Fremin Gallery is located at 520 West 23rd Street. For more information, visit FreminGallery.com.

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