NY Times Opinion Page/Can Art Be ‘Priceless’ in Rocky Times?

What is the value of art? We place value on real estate, services, and goods; and pay sports figures millions of dollars for a multi year contract, so why pay 106.5 million for a Picasso?

May 23, 2010, 7:00 PM

Can Art Be ‘Priceless’ in Rocky Times?

high auction pricesLeft to right: Estate of Pablo Picasso/Artists Rights Society, New York, via Christie’s; Sotheby’S/European Pressphoto Agency

What explains the quick return to confidence in the art market?
This month, a painting by Picasso, “Nude, Green Leaves and Bust,” became the most expensive painting ever sold at an auction when it exceeded expectations to fetch $106.5 million at Christie’s. In February, a sculpture by Giacometti, “Walking Man I,” sold for $104.3 million at Sotheby’s, setting the previous world record auction price.
What accounts for these auction prices? Are investments in trophy art any different from investments made in an office park or a sports team?

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