29 4 / 2011
To my post:
I very much enjoyed being interviewed by you. It was a lot of fun and I must add that your editing team has done a great job of cutting and splicing to make it all look good.
I have also read your commentary which is rather unflattering, though thank you for calling my wife and I a great couple. This remark aside, I feel your brief view into the art market has left you with some serious misconceptions.
First, your idea of challenging me to buy a work of art that would have no economic value sounds clever but is in fact naïve from many perspectives. The notion that great art can be of no value, or that one should “buy what you like” even if it is worthless, is an opinion often held by those who have no background in art or willingness to learn and appreciate art in its full context.
Museums around the globe are filled with important works to which society attributes economic value. Why? Because economic value is how the world recognizes aesthetic, social or historical value in art. The concept that there is something fresh and undiscovered that you alone you would cherish and that no one else would assign any economic value to if they discovered it, too, is idealized and naïve(an object of personal or sentimental value is another matter).
We are all a product of our cultural surroundings and this process begins from the time the doctor cuts the umbilical cord. So there is no fresh and unbiased view of anything, least of all art. The search for the work of art valuable to you and you alone is futile and pointless, art history is a dialogue.
Next, regarding your complaint that I treat the art business as a game, well, yes and no. As you’ve noted in your blogs, any business is a game of buying or selling, whether stocks, bonds etc… I am a collector, but I am also a businessman .Your assertion that I can afford to lose millions investing in art is not only mistaken but you’ve seem to have missed the point.
You are correct that money cannot be the only way to value art, but it is one way the art trade keeps score. This conference, and your interview inspired me to be perhaps somewhat flip, but I believe you’ve misunderstood me. I couldn’t be more serious about collecting, and you might not feel art is an investment, but there is a lot of money changing hands.
I’m sorry you don’t buy into the idea that art can be a good investment but no matter, I wasn’t selling you on it. Many fortunes have been made in art, and a few squandered. But your conclusion that art is not a repository of value comes from left field, it’s bad reporting and just not true. Some art is a good buy, and some is not so good, that simple unbiased view would have kept you out of trouble.
But instead for some strange reason you felt the need to attack my credibility by calling me a plutocrat. Well, though I’ve heard worse, I was asked to speak at this conference because I’ve written two books on the topic and I write a regular column on art collecting for the NY Observer.
I haven’t convinced you of a thing , but perhaps planted a seed of doubt, and some additional reasons for further reporting .Thanks to you and Reuters for your coverage, we’ll take what we can get.