When even the experts are warning that prices for works of art have become obscene, it is probably time to run a dispassionate eye over the multimillion-dollar frenzy for certain works.
Last week, Nu couché (sur le côté gauche) by Amedeo Modigliani sold to an unnamed buyer for $157m, and a new record was set for a David Hockney painting when Pacific Coast Highway and Santa Monica was bought for $28.5m.
Clare McAndrew of consultancy Art Economics says: “It’s slightly obscene, isn’t it? When you think of the other artists who could be supported by that money.” She adds that the Modigliani transaction is an illustration of the wealthy elite’s predilection for untamed spending: “To spend money on one thing like that shows ultra wealth gone wild.”
The price reached at the Modigliani auction reflects the state of the world economy, says McAndrew, who also compiles an annual study of the global art market with Swiss bank UBS. Stronger growth is fuelling the market, spiralling prices reflect rising rampant and rising inequality across advanced economies.
The art market broadly matched the growth rate of the global economy between 2000 and 2017, according to the latest UBS report, with world GDP and wealth both rising last year. Even so, some paintings are so famous they can fetch dizzyingly high prices when the economy is in a downturn.
Source: The Guardian