Wednesday, May 12, 2010

DAMage Report - The only good artist is a dead artist

The only good artist is a dead artist. At least that is what some people believe as indicated by what they will spend on original artwork. Once you die your value increases a hundred or even a thousand fold ... assuming of course that you were a halfway talented and collectible artist.

A 1932 painting by Pablo Picasso sold Tuesday night in New York for $106.5 million dollars. This is a new world record auction price for a work of art. The price for Nu au Plateau de Sculpteur (or Nude, Green Leaves and Bust for those of us that butcher the french language) had been estimated at around $70 million  before the sale. The painting was purchased by the Brodys in 1950 for $17,000. I suck at math - what kind of return on investment is that anyway? Something like a bazillion percent? You know Pablo is probably looking up from that special place reserved in hell for artists, yelling "WTF!"

The most expensive private sale was Jackson Pollock's No. 5, 1948, which sold for $140 million in 2006. He died at age 44 in 1956. 

According to the experts that sit around calculating this stuff, "dead artists tend to retain their value better than living ones. Some insurance companies have an automatic increase of the insured value of items if an artist dies.” It makes you wonder exactly how many famous artists had contracts taken out on them by impatient  collectors who were afraid they would die before the artist did. 

Before the Economy decided to nose dive and took everyone including the art market down, there was some interest in the fact that certain living artists were pulling in some major bucks at auctions. Contemporary artists Damien Hirst and Jeff Koons became symbols of speculation when prices for their work soared 175% between 2000 and 2008. But then the bubble burst, especially for the contemporary art market, which experienced a fall of about 40% as speculative bidders vanished. Let's hope Hirst and Koons had stuffed their  easels with some cash for a rainy day, because it is unlikely that living artists will experience that potential return on their creations... at least while they're alive.... anytime soon.

Not to be morbid but do you think the people holding onto Frank Frazetta originals are secretly rubbing their hands together and calculating how much profit they just made? There is definitely something goulish about the fact that an artist will never TRULY know the worth of their work, because they rarely achieve their pinnacle of success until they're six feet under. Doesn't do them a damn bit of good then. No wonder artists have a rep for being nutcases. We're never truly appreciated until we're dead. 

Here's a thought to make it a bit more fair on the artist, who after all poured their soul into creating these great works of art: they need to tack on a death tax to their paintings when they sell them to collectors. It could be  a projected percentage of value increase applied. Example: The price of the painting is $500 with a projected 1000% value death tax applied at a calculation of 100 years and.... oh nevermind - i suck at math. No wonder artists starve.

Also a nod of respect and sorrow at the passing of artist Frank Frazetta on Monday night. He was considered the grandfather of fantasy art. If you don't recognize the name, I promise, you'll recognize the art. He did the covers of the Conan novels as well as the gorgeous busty women chained to stone pillars that inspired more than one lusty male... and a few females as well,  I'm sure. I have yet to encounter an artist who didn't appreciate his wonderful illustrations. Many of us were influenced by him on some level - whether by the fire of his imagination or his exquisite use of light and color. His passing is a great loss to the art world.

1 comment:

billy pilgrim said...

how about the only rich artist is a dead artist and the only artist with a soul is the alive and kicking artist.

love your art long time.