Art and Aid

Editorial note: If you have not yet read our mission statement above, please do so in order that you can put our blogs in context. 

18 November 2013

The art market has shot off the radar. Stratospheric prices are being paid for creative art – paintings and sculpture in particular. Albeit, to no one’s surprise, this for artists who are established household names, not for talented young contemporaries still eking out a meager subsistence in garrets.

Thus, on 12 November 2013 plutocrat buyers forked out more than one billion dollars at two art auctions in New York.

A Francis Bacon triptych fetched $ 142.4 million at Christie’s – setting a new world record for the most valuable work of art ever sold at auction.

At the same auction a sculpture, Balloon Dog, by Jeff Koons, uncontestably the most over-rated phoney that ever disgraced the art world, raked in $ 58.4 million – the highest price ever paid for a work by a living artist.

Further auction price records were set for works by Willem de Kooning and Lucio Fontana.

The next day, 13 November 2013, Sotheby’s set new auction records for seven more artists, including Cy Twombly and Andy Warhol. Warhol’s 1963 painting “Silver Car Crash (Double Disaster)” fetched $ 105 milllion.

Melanie Gervis of the Art Newspaper said: “This is billionaires having fun. Art, essentially, has become the accepted elevating hobby of the super-rich. It’s a lot more sophisticated than a yacht.”


Fun it is.

Let’s all have fun!

Let’s have a look, all the same, at the figures for the disaster relief pledged to the Philippines in the wake of the Haiyan hurricane this month which, as we write, has claimed 4 000 lives and counting as well as involving untold destitution for hundreds of thousands of survivors.

Remember that our benchmark is the figure of $ 142.4 million paid last week for a Francis Bacon painting.

So what was the sum pledged by China, the world’s second largest economy, for Philippine relief?

Less than $2 milllion, according to reports.

What did Japan, another East Asian neighbour of the Philippines, pledge?

Just $ 10 million (while also , admittedly, offering to send troops, ships and planes).

The United States, the world’s strongest economy, is said to have promised a mere $ 20 millon.

The United Nations –  grouping no fewer than 193 nations,  virtually every country in the world  –  has managed, according to reports,  to stump up only $ 25 million.

Makes you think, dunnit?

Where are our priorities?


 You might perhaps care to view some of our earlier posts.  For instance:

1. Why? or How? That is the question (3 Jan 2012)

2. Partitocracy v. Democracy (20 July 2012)

3. The shoddiest possible goods at the highest possible prices (2 Feb 2012)

4. Capitalism in practice  (4 July 2012) 

5.Ladder  (21 June 2012)

 6. A tale of two cities (1)  (6 June 2012)

 7. A tale of two cities (2)  (7 June 2012)

 8. Where’s the beef? Ontology and tinned meat (31 Jan 2012)

Every so often we shall change this sample of previously published posts.


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