The $12 Million Stuffed Shark: The Curious Economics of Contemporary Art

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The $12 Million Stuffed Shark: The Curious Economics of Contemporary Art Marketing & Law
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Product Description

Many of us would probably never pay $140 million dollars for a drip painting called No. 5, but someone did. Perhaps because it was Jackson Pollock; but still, $12 million for a decaying stuffed shark? Once again, these examples aern't even the tip of the art-world iceberg. In 'The $12 Stuffed Shark' marketing and economics professor Don Thompson takes readers deep inside the world of art buying and auctions for the purpose of shedding much needed light on the psychology and economics of those buying and selling the world of moden art. With entertaining and intriguing prose, this enlightening work is sure to surprise anyone who (will pay anything) appreciates art.

Editorial Reviews

Informative and occasionally hilarious look at the surreal contemporary art market.This world has been fodder for mockery ever since Marcel Duchamp signed a urinal and proclaimed it art, but there's a whole lot more money at stake now, notes Thompson (Marketing and Economics/York Univ.). He bravely attempts to apply theories of basic economics and markets to the contemporary art scene, in which absurdity frequently rules. Evincing astute knowledge of the arcane workings of high-end art galleries and auction houses, the author walks readers through the mechanics of how a contemporary artist's work comes to be regarded as worthy of notice. Among the factors at play, Thompson avers, the artwork's quality is rarely prominent. Indeed, he notes, many of the pieces discussed—from Francis Bacon's disquieting studies of morbidity to Jeff Koons's glossy essays in camp—are not what most people would want to display in their homes or offices. The text makes it clear that who wants to buy a piece of art and how much they are willing pay for it matter more than its actual content. Damien Hirst—the artist who got $12 million for a shark packed with formaldehyde and mounted in a glass case—would probably be nobody if he had not been noticed by the right dealers and thus "branded" to the super-rich as an artist of note. "You are nobody in contemporary art until you have been branded," declares Thompson. He makes no judgment about this fact, but simply notes the absurdities, categorizes them and moves on. Sticking to the numbers leads him to a simple conclusion: "Art is neither a good investment nor an efficient investment vehicle."A clear-headed approach to a frequently high-pitched issue.First printing of 40,000 Copyright Kirkus 2008 Kirkus/BPI Communications. All rights reserved.

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