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READER MIKE REFERS TO THE CULTURAL CONTEXT THAT MIGHT JUSTIFY THE (ODDLY) STILL SKYROCKETING PRICES AT SOTHEBY’S AND CHRISTIE’S:

‘Marketing and status. To be wealthy, you must pay for the trappings that indicate your status. You need the correct pen, car, suit, school for your children, holiday destination/home, home in the right area, and an outlandish display of art as status items. There are piles to be spent, so it is natural that there would therefore be teams to convince the wealthy on how to spend it. It’s not that wealthy people appreciate art any more than less wealthy. It’s more they are approached to invest for a big future turnover on one hand, or they are persuaded the work will be praised and sought after by others of the same status level. In place of top hats and starched collars, you have pickled sharks and poorly made objects that come with a tome of erudite explanation and justification. No one in that circle demands otherwise, but what about the rest of us?

…and of course there is the approach of art simply being another commodity to invest in and make profit thereby. The art is neutered regarding any effect it may have apart from being a potential profit-making item…as well as a way to launder ill-gotten gains. Similar to the trade in antiquities. The object is taken out of its meaningful context, which is where it’s value should lie, and is used as an object of individual status. Forget the irreversible damage done to our understanding of our own history because that is no longer important. Look forward to growth and profit; don’t look back to see what happened to others who made similar choices and are now only found buried in the ground’