The Art World Is Like Being In Mafia: Some Things Aren't Discused
August 18, 2016 10:54 AM   Subscribe

I'm going to imagine you have the basics: over ₤10M in the bank, a yacht, luxury London apartment, second home in Monaco, offshore bank account, and if not a private jet, at least access to one. Good, are you sitting comfortably in your designer Italian armchair? Then we can begin. -The Banker's Guide To Art
posted by Pirate-Bartender-Zombie-Monkey (13 comments total) 23 users marked this as a favorite
"If someone tells you they buy what they like, that's the kiss of death".

I'm not even sure what that means but it was after an implication by the narrator that some billionaire's art fix has hurt then financially. I guess "buy high and stupid" sell low, is a bad idea for anyone. Aww shucks :-)
posted by sammyo at 11:44 AM on August 18, 2016 [1 favorite]

I misread this as the Banksy guide to art, and it still fit extremely well.
posted by the wine-dark sea at 11:46 AM on August 18, 2016 [2 favorites]

I could only watch an hour of this before it got too depressing.

Considering how much money is at stake and the long term game these investors play, isn't it odd that we don't read more about stealth marketing attempts to increase the value of the art? Spending a few hundreds of thousands to buy articles in premium publications and the influence of art advisers and other key players should be a no brainer. Hmm, now there's a business...
posted by Foci for Analysis at 12:58 PM on August 18, 2016 [2 favorites]

I also had to bail out, but not before discovering that the quote is actually "some things aren't talked about," not "...discussed," so if a mod decides to fix the typo in "Discused" they might consider fixing the actual wording.
posted by languagehat at 1:17 PM on August 18, 2016 [2 favorites]

"You come and you see a painting like this and it's not even a situation of someone to say 'oh my kid could do a better job than this.' This is worse."
posted by ckape at 1:21 PM on August 18, 2016 [1 favorite]

Wait, so a significant number of people are buying art as an investment? And reselling a work of art is considered such a faux pas that galleries will blacklist people who try to liquidate even part of their collection? How does anyone get a good idea of the "true" market value then?

No wonder the art market comes tumbling down like a house of cards every so often. If the rate of resale increased to even a tiny fraction of the total stock it would become obvious that things are wildly overpriced.
posted by Orange Pamplemousse at 3:36 PM on August 18, 2016

If you can't sell any of it, how is it an investment?
posted by The World Famous at 3:50 PM on August 18, 2016

It’s not, it’s a giant money-laundering scheme. “Art” is just a useful token that is high value, easily portable & can be used as collateral against loans in other jurisdictions.
posted by pharm at 4:44 PM on August 18, 2016 [3 favorites]

It sounds like the perfect heist, but I'm sure someone will be a wet blanket at tell me that even though those warehouses are legally outside the borders I still can't get away scot-free with a daring Hollywood-style robbery of one.

probably doesn't even have an assortment of moving laser sensors that can only be bypassed with perfect agility and timing
posted by ckape at 5:49 PM on August 18, 2016 [1 favorite]

Hmm, I find the modern art world fascinating, and thought the program had found some interesting people to talk about the subject, but the overall tone of the show was much too coy. If you want to say something say it, leaving it to implication and inference is just way to curry favor with an audience without actually committing to anything. The cutesy nudge, nudge, wink, wink attitude is a little too rewarding of audience bias for my liking.

Which is unfortunate less for what the audience may think of billionaires, since even the billionaires don't really care about that, but it does reinforce the unwarranted smugness people have about modern art, due in no small part to all too common practice of reporting more on the art market than the works themselves. The value of works on the market isn't the only measure of value of the art, which this kind of reporting tends to leave as an open suggestion.

That said, as I mentioned above, many of the conversations were indeed worth listening to and the show as a whole was quite enjoyable and was mildly informative in a few areas for me.

The quote, "If someone tells you they buy what they like, that's the kiss of death" was explained moments later in the show when the collector spoke about the way tastes change over time, using the analogy about one might grow up loving fish and chips and find the idea of sushi repugnant, but if they try sushi they may grow to love it. With the idea being new collectors haven't refined their tastes enough to be able to fully judge what they are seeing, essentially. Pretty basic, but not really wrong.

"Stealth" methods of increasing the value of art were also discussed; consortiums of buyers working together to raise prices of artists they've invested heavily in for example. The show didn't go into some other ways that happens such as it not being uncommon in years past for those writing about art to be invested in the artists they write about or to be given works by artists as a sort of quid pro quo perhaps for supporting them in print. That, I believe, isn't as much a thing anymore as there was a concerted effort to change practices in criticism in some of the worse offending publications, but one could say some is almost unavoidable as well as holdings by museums and auction houses often spark writing which could potentially influence value, but more with new artists than established ones I'd have to imagine.

The show also addresses selling art. People do in fact sell art, and while people who flip art frequently may be frowned upon or blacklisted if it seems they are hurting values and not in it for the works, just the cash, it is expected people will sell at least some of their collections over time, either for return or just variety as tastes change.

"True" market value? Heh.
posted by gusottertrout at 2:20 AM on August 19, 2016

It is worth recalling that while Van Gogh was alive, he couldn't give his work away, and Fragonard (IIRC) was the highest valued living artist. Let the wheels of commerce be greased, it's only money after all. I do wonder if future generation will give a monkey's about Hirst, Koons, Cattelan etc., and who will actually make 'history' (itself a flexible concept). But then again, Hirst has the commercial pull to have the director of the Prado write a commentary on the Woolich Gallery exhibition of his execrable paintings and attempt to draw absurd parallels to Goya, Rembrandt, etc. Perhaps the game is well and truly up. IMO, the current ascendant generation has a couple of genuinely important artists (eg Kiefer, Richter) and a lot of careerists, whether artists, curators or gallerists. If I could afford it, I'd collect arte povera and European pop art, which is still undervalued and has a few truly great artists (Christo, we love you).
posted by fellorwaspushed at 8:00 PM on August 19, 2016

« Older solitary, poor, nasty, brutish, and short.   |   From Jingoism to Feelings - the aesthetic response... Newer »

This thread has been archived and is closed to new comments