December 2, 2009

Your Wall St. bailout dollars at work

The New Criterion's article The Art Market Explained by James Panero points out that at a New York auction on November 11, 2009:
Defying expectations, even after the fall of Lehman Brothers, the price bubble that had been inflating for post-war and contemporary art refused to pop for Pop. A silkscreen by [Andy] Warhol, 200 One Dollar Bills from 1962, a large canvas of facsimiles of dollar bills arranged across it, brought in over $43 million, far exceeding the pre-sale estimate of $8–12 million ...

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12 comments:

Anonymous said...

What infuriates me most about modernist "artists" is that they call themselves artists. It's like they're claiming to be in the same business as Rembrandt and Michelangelo. The arrogance here is breathtaking. They share the same relationship with actual artists as YouTube commenters do with Shakespeare.

By the way, I have a theory about YouTube commenters. I use YouTube a lot, but I never log in there because I'm afraid that one day the music industry will sue a few hundred YouTube users to make an example and that I will be one of those. Even if the chance of that is tiny, why risk it? To comment on YouTube you have to be logged on. This may be scaring off all the sane would-be commenters.

Anonymous said...

It ain't Wall Street money; its just people turning their soon to be worthless dollars into something tangible.

OhioStater said...

They took our money and promised to "spend" it as usual arguing this would be a form of economic stimulus for waiters and Ferrari dealers. They are alpha males, and they have a lot of confidence, and they had the stones to steal our money and use as they see fit. This is the result.

Anonymous said...

please....that painting was worth 55-65 million at least


I kinda like Ohiostater


Dan in DC

Anonymous said...

"What infuriates me most about modernist "artists" is that they call themselves artists. It's like they're claiming to be in the same business as Rembrandt and Michelangelo."

I would like to see Andy Warhol try to paint a Rembrandt, even an exact copy. Picasso was reputed to be classically trained but if you look at his work, it's apparent he wasn't very good at picking colors.

John Seiler said...

I'm not a fan of Warhol, either, but his "200 One Dollar Bills" depicts money that, in 1962, was worth 5.7 ounces of gold (with gold at $35/ounce). Today, $200 is worth just .16 of an ounce of gold (with gold at $1220/ounce).

The high price for Warhol's work shows art is being used as an inflation hedge -- ironically in this case of a picture of money. The dollar's value has dropped 80% against gold since 9/11, when Greenspan and Bush panicked and devalued the dollar, supposedly to "avoid" an economic disaster. (They only guaranteed a worse crash later.)

The easy money also made it easier (for a while) to pay for Bush's wars. Bush and Greenspan also kept interest rates artificially low, producing the housing boom/bust (made much worse by the stuff Steve has been writing about low-income loans).

Inflation takes a while to work through the system, but first affects other commodities; then valuables such as art, stamps, and rare coins; later, manufactures and services, which commonly have longer contracts. The Bush Depression currently is keeping prices low as inventories clear. But soon everything will be going up in price, much like the 1970s.

Obama is only making matters worse, with his Afghan escalation costing more hundreds of billions and his domestic socialism costing trillions -- both bringing more inflation. And Bernanke is another Greenspan-style inflationist.

It's only going to get worse until the easy money is ended, the empire is reined in, and the welfare state is curbed.

Mr. Anon said...

"Anonymous said...

It ain't Wall Street money; its just people turning their soon to be worthless dollars into something tangible."

And who do you think is most keen to trade their soon-to-be-worthless dollars into something else? I bet that the MOTUs are heavily represented among art buyers. It isn't being bought up by dentists in Des Moines.

Peter A said...

Spare me the outrage Anonymous. "Artist" is not a title you're awarded, it's perfectly possible to be a crappy artist. Shakespeare and Dan Brown are both writers.

bbedit said...

It's called 'chutzpah.' It's been around for thousands of years. Get used to it, if you aren't already.

basketballmom02_04 said...

It could have been Katrina dollars spent on hookers and blow.

Middletown Girl said...

It's more about who-can-pay than what-is-worth-buying. In other words, if there weren't a lot of rich people with cash to burn, no one would care about a Warhol.

Of course, many buyers of Warhol and other Pop Art must know it's junk, but I think there's a certain satisfaction that comes with spending tons of money on hip shit. I mean, it's so square to spend good money on good things. It's so much bolder, more brazen, and deliciously outrageous to buy stuff that you know have little intrinsic artistic value. You become both cultural elitist AND an avant-garde maverick who snickers at notions of quality, hierarchy, and respectability.

Same reason some people buy $50 bottle of water. Why? Because it's really better than tap water? No, because you can and because it raises eyebrows.
Come to think of it, it's also like sending your kid to $30,000 a year kindergarten. Just to show off you can, thus belonging to the moneyed crowd. But, there's more than desire for respectability and privilege since the cost-in-relation-to-value is so ridiculous and outrageous. Ridiculousness and outrageousness provide the cachet of being wild and different too rather than rich and stuffy. Have cake and eat it too. Belong to an exclusive elitist world... but also put on airs of maverick rebel radical hipster.

I don't know if Warhol was an astute hoodwinker of the rich or their slave... or maybe both.

David said...

> Come to think of it, [extravagance on the part of modern art buyers is] also like sending your kid to $30,000 a year kindergarten.[...] the cost-in-relation-to-value is so ridiculous <

No it isn't. Keeping your child from getting beaten by hood rats is worth it (barring alternatives).