The $12 Million Stuffed Shark
The Curious Economics of Contemporary Art
St. Martin's Griffin
Why would a smart New York investment banker pay $12 million for the decaying, stuffed carcass of a shark? By what alchemy does Jackson Pollock's drip painting No. 5, 1948 sell for $140 million?
Intriguing and entertaining, The $12 Million Stuffed Shark is a Freakonomics approach to the economics and psychology of the contemporary art world. Why were record prices achieved at auction for works by 131 contemporary artists in 2006 alone, with astonishing new heights reached in 2007? Don Thompson explores the money, lust, and self-aggrandizement of the art world in an attempt to determine what makes a particular work valuable while others are ignored.
This book is the first to look at the economics and the marketing strategies that enable the modern art market to generate such astronomical prices. Drawing on interviews with past and present executives of auction houses and art dealerships, artists, and the buyers who move the market, Thompson launches the reader on a journey of discovery through the peculiar world of modern art. Surprising, passionate, gossipy, revelatory, The $12 Million Stuffed Shark reveals a great deal that even experienced auction purchasers do not know.
Praise for The $12 Million Stuffed Shark
“Don Thompson has written, by far, the best book on the economics of the contemporary art market yet written.” —Felix Salmon, Portfolio.com
“Don Thompson provides the single best guide to both the anthropology and the economics of contemporary art markets. This book is fun and fascinating on just about every page.” —Tyler Cowen, New York Sun
“If you read no other book about art in your life, read the one that's gripped me like a thriller for the past two days…it's called the $12 Million Stuffed Shark.” —Richard Morrison, The Times (London)
“…it's lucid, well researched and, while carefully balanced, manages to retain a sharp edge .” —Telegraph UK
“A new book by an economist named Don Thompson entitled $12 Million Stuffed Shark: The Curious Economics of Contemporary Art ought to be required reading for collectors intending to wade into well publicized contemporary art auctions…” —Economist.com
“[An] informative an occasionally hilarious look at the surreal contemporary art market... A clear-headed approach to a frequently high-pitched issue.” —Kirkus