For those of you who know me, you know that there’s one thing I follow with extreme interest: the art world. How I love it so. I don’t find its valuations of things to arbitrary or insanely overpriced or anything like that at all.
(JUST KIDDING. I ABSOLUTELY THINK THAT LAST THING!)
And so, it is with great interest that I point out the above painting by noted guy who just made Rex Morgan, M.D.-caliber arts, Roy Lichtenstein sold for a staggering $43.2 million. In fairness, it was only $38.5 million before tax, which is much, much more reasonable. Oh, by the way, this painting was originally purchased for $2.1 million in 1988. Somehow this painting–which I don’t think has done anything besides avoid picking up a mustard stain in the intervening 23 years–is twenty times more valuable than it was then.
The New York Times’ review of this particular art auction/spending orgy (82 items sold for $247.59 million dollars) describes it as “a stunning performance given the climate of economic misery,” but that’s obviously wrong. I don’t mean to get all #occupyjasonstreet on you guys, but I mean, much of the outrage over the climate of economic misery is that the super-wealthy aren’t sharing in it as well. Alright, fine, I’ll put up a graph.
But criticizing the New York Times for being out of touch with actual America-based humans is like criticizing something else that is the way it is for being the only way it can be (Pope:Catholic, people with glasses:nerdy until they take them off and become beautiful, CBS comedies:a sad commentary on our national tastes, and so on).
Instead, I’d like to focus on one completely insane thing that some art dealer said in a different article on the topic, which was, “People would rather have art or gold instead of paper money.”
No, no, no. The thing I take issue with here is more the idea that being super, preposterously rich is at all regarded as normal enough that the sentence is not the more accurate “Super, preposterously rich people would rather have art or gold instead of paper money.” And I mean, maybe that’s true–or maybe not, this is an art dealer trying to pump up his industry after all–but at least there’s some possibility of that being true.
Maybe I’m reading way too much into this, but this backlash to the backlash against the rich has gone far enough. People who have $40 million to blow on a painting are not in any way representative of the human experience. They’re just not. And that’s fine. Do your thing, billionaires. Maybe you are a tremendous job creator whose Galtian genius has improved mankind forever. But you don’t get to be “one of us” too.