Guardian Unlimited | Columnists | This miser’s hoard is the last vestige of the imperial world-view
The truth is that applying words such as “worth” and “value” to art is an abuse of language. They are terms not of art but of a science, that of economics. They describe price in a market in which supply is fixed but demand exorbitant. Nobody does Klimts any more. The picture was expensive because, unless Christie’s was pulling a fast one in a “negotiated” secret deal, there must have been another buyer prepared to pay nearly as much. Getting journalists to hype a work of art to legitimise its market price is playing with words. It is like saying the Olympics are “worth” £2bn when this is simply a price fixed in the market for political kudos.
Another interesting take on the Klimt sale. Over the past few months we have seen an explosion in art sales. not a month goes by that we don’t hear about the new highest price paid for a work of art. Sotheby’s and Christies are rolling in sales and the curators in New York are combing the art schools looking for the next big thing (over here!). We are in a huge art buying frenzy, surfing the wave of paint towards.. well.. what exactly?
Are people learning the value of art or are they devaluing it by their avarice? are the purchases of masters works for high prices driving the Next Big Thing further into the gutter? or will this frenzy enable those of us just starting out to reach higher heights than previously attainable?