Friday, September 19, 2008

A Tale Of Two Cities- London and New York

The Golden Calf by Damian Hirst sold for $18.6 million
New York
Well it's been a roller coaster week in the stock market with the bankruptcy or Lehman Brothers, the bailout of AIG, and continued uncertainty about Washington Mutual, Morgan Stanley and other firms with shaky financials. The SEC has issued a temporary ban against short selling of financial stocks. Long term Lehman employees with mortgages, college tuition's, and basic family living expenses to pay, are now unemployed. Individual investors who had only recently recouped what they had lost in the market crash of 2001, have seen the the value of their investments seriously eroded
Meanwhile, this week Contemporary artist Damian Hirst, rumored to be worth a billion dollars, is now some $172 million richer after Sotheby's two day sale of his new works. Lots were sold to Gagosian and White Cube galleries and Russian gazillionaires.
According to the Wall Street Journal:
But the biggest spender -- bidding over the telephone and said by industry insiders to be Christie's owner, the keen Hirst collector Francois Pinault -- paid £13.2 million for three lots. The most expensive, "The Golden Calf," a 20-ton calf with 18-karat-gold hooves and horns in a formaldehyde glass tank, was perhaps the most symbolic work in the sale, representing as it does the idolatrous worship of money. (Note the exquisite irony of this particular work selling for 18.6 million)
And a description of who was at the auction from the Times Online:
But inside the saleroom the drama was palpable - the art auction as high-risk spectator sport. Sir Norman Rosenthal, until recently the exhibitions secretary at the Royal Academy and one of the men who helped to make Hirst’s reputation, was among the onlookers, along with sundry hedge fund managers in open-neck shirts and haughty-looking younger women with big hair and expensive facial features.
While I find the work of Damian Hirst interesting, I can't understand why "The Kingdom", a tiger shark suspended in formaldehyde, could justify a price of $17.2 million.

Is Contemporary Art a con?
One comment that I read referring to this sale is "There is no Contemporary Art, there is only marketing". I couldn't have said it better myself.
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La Belette Rouge said...

I am a fan of contemporary art and I appreciate the story behind the work, or, as some would describe it, the marketing. Marketing is, after all, a story. And, perhaps the story Damien Hurst is telling is a better story than the one Lehman Brothers told. Sacred cows may be worth more than the bull of wall street.;-)

Belle de Ville said...

Belette, I actually like Hirst's art. There are some great peices at the Broad at LACMA.
But, when his pieces sell for over 10 some point, in my opinion, they cease to be art.
Oh...and don't even get me started on wall street....i'm trying to get all the BS over the last week out of my system.!

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