It’s difficult to know whether to laugh or cry at the latest goings-on in the high end art world. First there was an exploding piece by ‘Banksy,’ which just after selling for £1 million allegedly self-destructed. Now some members of the high end art priesthood are saying the piece could be worth even more. Next time a Banksy comes up, I’ll bid £1 million for it, and when the time comes to pay I’ll simply explain I flushed the cash down the toilet. That would be a laugh, wouldn’t it?
Now I learn that Russian billionaire Dimitry Rybolovlev is suing Sotheby’s for $380 million on the grounds that they allegedly took part in a fraud, overcharging the oligarch on 38 pieces (story in Apollo magazine). Poor Dimitry should read more about the art world and take steps to not make himself look like a prat. He could do no worse than begin his education with Brian Sewell’s autobiography Outsider (Vols. I & II) or Philip Hook’s Breakfast at Sotheby’s. It’s the very job of these auction houses to hype up the prices and maintain a false market – all in cahoots with dealers. And another fairly recent art world story suggests that a significant fraction of much that goes on sale is fake anyway. How could you tell, I hear you cry? Why, some of the artists may not be artists at all, but just ‘provocateurs’ to use Arts Council-speak. Dimitry would be better advised to save his lawyers’ fees and buy some Rembrandt etchings instead.