The Lemming Market

Atossa Araxia Abrahamian

  • Dark Side of the Boom: The Excesses of the Art Market in the 21st Century by Georgina Adam
    Lund Humphries, 232 pp, £20.00, January, ISBN 978 1 84822 220 5
  • A History of the Western Art Market: A Sourcebook of Writings on Artists, Dealers and Markets edited by Titia Hulst
    California, 416 pp, £28.00, November 2017, ISBN 978 0 520 29063 1

On 15 November, Leonardo da Vinci’s Salvator Mundi was put up for sale at Christie’s in New York. There is something both exhilarating and embarrassing about watching the world’s wealthiest people spend 19 minutes bidding up, up, up, until a victor emerges half a billion dollars less rich. The crowd gasped as the zeros multiplied, and erupted into cheers when one of five prospective buyers phoned in the winning bid. The painting sold for $450 million including fees – the highest sum ever commanded by a painting.

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