For some, putting a price tag on a piece of art is close to obscenity; for others, art doesn’t exist outside of the art market. Despite the fact that astronomic sums have been invested in art every day and auction records have been reset anew every season, money talk in the art is still a taboo. Artists refuse to talk about their “bankable values”, collectors prefer not to brag about it (for whatever reasons imaginable), and galleries definitely want to keep the market as obscure as possible (for the benefits of many). For ordinary people like us (sorry, you are not yet there if you are reading this article), every time when we are given the price of a piece of artwork, we drop our jaw and humbly walk away. Gradually, we stop asking, yet secretly, we all want to know and to have some fun with the figure-guessing game. It’s insane, yet exciting. It’s ridiculous, yet fascinating. It bears signs of dismay and reproche, yet everyone dreams of being part of the big boys game. This is the art market that we want to disclose to you, literally, with its price tags.
Last Monday (12 June), the world’s most powerful art fair, Art Basel, opened its doors for its most eligible VIPs collectors from all over the world with a reservoir of US$3.4 billion worth of art for sale during its 7-day fair. The days that followed we were bombarded with figures of sales reports from different media outlets, insiders’ leaks, twitters scoops… Gallery owners announced good news that “this is the best year ever”, or “exceeding our expectations”, or hilariously claiming that “we can go home and enjoy our holiday now” after the first day of VIP preview.
Now, how much do their holidays cost? 1% of the value of a piece of art they sold? Of course, destination and style make a big difference, just like a piece of art. Check it out here.
Urs Fischer The Kiss (2017)
Sadie Coles Gallery
Nick Cave Soundsuit
Jack Shainman Gallery
Sigmar Polke Nachtkappe I (Night Cap I) (1986)
Price: $8 million
Roberto Matta La violence de la douceur (1949)
Price: 2.5 million
Tom Wesselmann Drawing for Nude on a Couch (1971)
Edward Tyler Nahem
Price: 4.4 million