Jeff Koons’s 1986 stainless steel sculpture Rabbit fetched $91.1 million.
Jeff Koons has reclaimed his title as the living artist with the world’s most expensive artwork sold at auction. The triumph comes after Christie sold his 1986 stainless steel sculpture Rabbit for over $90 million at it’s Post-War and Contemporary Art sale in New York. Congratulations, but.
When appreciation for art ends and
Whether it’s via auction or private sales, artworks by big-name artists have drawn record-breaking prices. Take a look at the short list below. The sums of money involved in those transactions are insane and, frankly speaking, I don’t think that people who pay that much, do it out of love of art. I think it’s an adrenaline rush for them. Hunting White Rhinos isn’t legal anymore, so why not to drop a hummer on Jackson Pollock’s painting. The guy with the biggest trophy wins.
Leonardo da Vinci
Salvator Mundi (Savior of the World)
$450 million (auction)
Willem de Kooning
$300 million (private sale)
The Card Players
$250 to $300 million (private sale)
Nafea Faa Ipoipo
$210 million (private sale)
$200 million (private sale)
So, ultra-wealthy collector looks at the art market like it is an African safari, seeking a trophy to hang on the wall in his mansion’s 25,000 sq foot living room. Others are investors, (again, not art lovers) set on resale profit. For them, it’s a stock market, they don’t care what they buy as long as they can make money. And of course, art museums. They believe that adding a couple of big names to their gallery will bring in the crowds.
Is Jeff Koons’s work really that good?
Good enough to bring 91.1 million dollars for shiny 3 feet tall stainless steel bunny (or $58.4M for Balloon Dog (Orange))?
No, it is not.
Some people will disagree with me, and many will be angry at me, for the audacity to criticize what some view as pioneering and of primary art-historical importance.
But, guess what, I’m not criticizing his work, I’m defending it. I believe that by dropping such insane sums of money on art, people degrade that art. By paying tens, or even hundreds of millions of dollars for work of art, one transforms it into an ordinary commodity. It isn’t painting or sculpture anymore; it is just long string of digits which blurs the viewer’s mind, and in effect, destroys one’s ability to interact with it. If you walked into a museum or art gallery to see 90 million dollar sculpture, you are there for wrong reasons.
I don’t like that art has became a status symbol for a handful of billionaires. One pays $30 million for a painting, then some other pays 50M for something else, then we read in news papers that Sothelby’s sold Paul Cézanne for 200M and so on.
Finally, there’s Salvator Mundi by Leonardo da Vinci. With 450 million dollar price tag (Four Hundred and Fifty Million Dollars)… I know who Leonardo da Vinci was, but 450 mils for a painting, I think it is a little excessive. Off course, as usual, there’s a simple explanation to this madness, and I (thank to my extensive contacts among art dealers 😉 ) know the answer.
The need to be number one.
In my humble opinion, people who spend tens/hundreds of millions of dollars on art do it not out of love of it, but because of their need for competition, and that’s something I can easily understand. I understand the need to be number one, the need to be a winner and right now 450,000,000 is the winning number.
The gentleman who’s bought da Vinci’s painting got the main prize, and I think he’s going to keep it for a long while. The reason why his number one position is not going to be in danger in any foreseeable future is because of the rules of the game. One can’t just drop a ton of money on any piece of garbage that someone put out for sale. It has to be something that, when paying such an insane amount of money, will not make one look like an idiot.
Spending $450 million on Leonardo da Vinci painting, (the only privately owned da Vinci in the world) by the rules of the game is perfectly O.K., and because there’s nothing else comparable to it, waiting to be bought, there’s no reason for the owner of Salvator Mundi to worry about losing his position.
It looks like I have finally finished this post.
Now I’m going to walk to my local Antiques and Collectibles store and buy something I’v been eyeing for quite some time – 3 feet tall Gnome figure with a price tag of $50 (I think I can knock it down to $45). I intend to install the little guy at my front lawn for everyone to see.
That, ladies and gentlemen, is the proper way to express real love for art.
Thank You For Reading