your £$ support needed

part of a small rebellion | by maryann johanson

curated: $450 million would support a *lot* of art…

You could give 450 artists $1 million each to set them free to do their best work. You could give 900 artists half a million bucks. You could give 1,800 artists $250,000. (Shall I keep going?) You could give 3,600 artists $125,000. You could give 7,200 artists $62,500. You could give 14,400 artists $31,250.

You could give 28,800 artists $15,625, which would probably be more than most of them will make from their art in a year, and that would still be an enormous boon that would give them room and freedom to do good work.

Oh, was this $450 million purchase an investment? You could retain the right of first refusal to buy any work produced under your patronage, perhaps even at a discount from projected market value based upon how generous your patronage was. At the — *ahem* — clearly inflated prices the art market is operating under these days, only a very small percentage of the artists you supported would have to strike it big in order for this to pay off for you.

But you, anonymous buyer of (purportedly) Leonardo Da Vinci’s Salvator Mundi, probably didn’t see this as an investment, given some of the doubts about the painting’s provenance. Even if it is a genuine Da Vinci, and the problems with its multiple haphazard restorations don’t continue to be seen as a problem, it’s unlikely that this painting will ever sell again for this much, never mind an even bigger figure. No, you bought this because you have so much money you don’t know what to do with it, and you wanted the bragging rights, even if only in private. So, an old canvas will sit in a vault, unseen by almost everyone, except the other unfathomably and immorally wealthy assholes you decide to show it off to.

posted in:
easter eggs
  • RogerBW

    I think the same applies to filmmaking. If I were to take the $55 million reported production budget of Murder on the Orient Express, a film that nobody was asking for, and give $100,000 each to 550 new filmmakers… I reckon my odds of getting back at least one film better than MotOE would be pretty good.

  • Absolutely true, and I’ve said as much many times before.

    But this case is much worse, I think. Even hundreds of millions poured into a movie results in something that we can watch, and possibly enjoy. (Sometimes these movies are really great!) A big-budget movies employs a lot of people, if only for a limited period. It might turn a profit, even with such a large budget. But $450m for this painting that no one will even get to see is truly wasted money.

  • LaSargenta


    I’m sorry, I can’t contribute more to this. I’ll be sitting in the corner shaking my head and sighing.

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