Thursday, February 4, 2010

I Got Giaco-money in the Bank.

So last night Alberto Giacometti’s Walking Man I broke the auction sales record, selling at Sotheby's in London for $104.3 Million. Estimated to sell at just $20-28 Million (oh a mere $20 mil?), everyone wants to know who the hell bought this thing for so much money? Seriously.

The previous record holder was Picasso's Boy with Pipe which sold for $104.1 Million in 2004. There are two things that really shock me about this record being broken by this piece:

1. It's one of an edition of 6 + 1 AP. So its not a unique object.
2. Picasso is, well, Picasso. He's so highly regarded by people in the arts and is a household name. Giacometti is certainly one of the last century's greats, but he doesn't carry the same clout as Picasso.

It's unbelievable to think someone could spend over $100 Mil on one object. I mean even if you are worth $1 billion, that's 10% of you net worth. And we're not even talking about $100 Mil of your net worth, this is an amount existing in cash, ready for spending.

As much as I love the arts, its this kind of spending that makes me so conflicted about this field. $100 Mil could do so many good things. And beyond that, earning that kind of money is inevitably done on the backs of cheap labor and exploitation. Not that I can't say that my entire doesn't life rests on exploitation; the clothes I'm wearing, the computer I'm typing on, the table the computer sits on...I know people died for them. This is another topic for another time, but the whole idea that there are people worth more than the GDP of Zimbabwe who spend like this is so complicated and morally ambiguous for me. How can we reward hard work without rewarding exploitation? Is it really impossible?