The Exclusivity of the Art Market

875 Words Jun 25th, 2018 4 Pages
“That which costs little is less valued,” said novelist Miguel de Cervantes (Saavedra, 1819). A phenomenon very true to the art markets, one might say. Elitism and exclusivity drive the art world. Value of art works is socially and subjectively constructed, based on one’s concocted rationales of what is significant and what is not. Giving art works the title of commodities, hence, is rather trivial, particularly due to the nature and quality of these works. One cannot, however, deny that in the case of contemporary art, capitalism and the art world seem to run hand-in-hand.

Ben Lewis’ 2009 documentary “The Great Contemporary Art Bubble” provides a pretty clear picture of money and power concentrated in an unregulated art market where
…show more content…
The documentary presented examples of British art-world businessman Charles Saatchi who triggered and supported the extraordinary prices for the works of Damien Hirst, as well as collector Jose Mugrabi, whose collection of 800 Warhols indubitably amounts to cornering the market. (Lewis, 2009)

Art markets are notorious for their lack of transparency and information asymmetries provide several opportunities for immoral activities to take place. (Velthuis, 2011) On the day of the declaration of bankruptcy by Lehman Brothers, the worst financial crisis in history, Damien Hirst sold his art at a record price of £70 million, in an auction at Sotheby’s. It was apparent, however, that Hirst and his colleagues had manipulated the sale prices by engaging dummy bidders into the auction sales. (Lewis, 2009) Thus, while the rest of the economy was slowly falling apart, the contemporary art bubble kept on inflating, bigger than ever before. It was the peak of the contemporary art bubble, and also the start of its downfall. A month after this triumph, the contemporary art market crashed, dropping by 40% in November 2008 and 75% by February 2009. (Art Market Trends, 2011)
Additionally, budget and subsidies cuts for cultural institutes were seen all over Europe and UK, following the recession of 2008. As a result, many galleries and institutions had to close shop. In entirety, the art market experienced a huge loss of confidence due to the financial
Open Document