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The Orange Balloon Dog: Bubbles, Turmoil and Avarice in the Contemporary Art Market

The Orange Balloon Dog: Bubbles, Turmoil and Avarice in the Contemporary Art Market

by Don Thompson


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Within forty-eight hours in the fall of 2014, buyers in the Sotheby’s and Christie’s New York auction houses spent $1.7 billion on contemporary art. Non-taxed freeport warehouses around the globe are stacked with art held for speculation. One of Jeff Koons’ five chromium-plated stainless steel balloon dogs sold for 50 percent more at auction than the previous record for any living artist. A painting by Christopher Wool, featuring four lines from a Francis Ford Coppola movie stenciled in black-on-a-white background, sold for $28 million. In The Orange Balloon Dog, economist and bestselling author Don Thompson cites these and other fascinating examples to explore the sometimes baffling activities of the high-end contemporary art market. He examines what is at play in the exchange of vast amounts of money and what nudges buyers, even on the subconscious level, to imbue a creation with such high commercial value.

Thompson analyzes the behaviors of buyers and sellers and delves into the competitions that define and alter the value of art in today’s international market, from New York to London, Singapore to Beijing. Take heed if your millions are tied up in stainless steel balloon dogs—Thompson also warns of a looming bust of the contemporary art price balloon.

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Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781771621526
Publisher: Douglas and McIntyre (2013) Ltd.
Publication date: 09/09/2017
Pages: 224
Product dimensions: 6.10(w) x 8.90(h) x 0.90(d)

About the Author

Don Thompson is an economist, and emeritus Nabisco Brands Professor of marketing and strategy at the Schulich School of Business at York University in Toronto. He has an MBA and Ph.D. from the University of California, Berkeley, and has taught at Harvard Business School and the London School of Economics. He is the author of twelve books, including the internationally bestselling The $12 Million Stuffed Shark: The Curious Economics of Contemporary Art (St. Martin’s Griffin, 2010) and The Supermodel and the Brillo Box: Back Stories and Peculiar Economics from the World of Contemporary Art (St. Martin’s Griffin, 2014). He has written on the economics of the art market for publications as diverse as The Times (London), Harper’s, Fortune and Apollo. He lives in Toronto.

Table of Contents

Art, Pay, Love

Chapter 1 High School with Money 9

Is Value the Last Paddle Raised?

Chapter 2 The Orange Balloon Dog 19

Chapter 5 Three Studies of Lucian Freud 27

Chapter 4 $26 Million for Nine Words 33

Chapter 5 Jeff Koons and Popeye 41

Chapter 6 Ludwig's Play-Doh 47

The Art of More

Chapter 7 Sotheby's and Third Point 53

Chapter 8 Foraging for Collectors and Consignors 65

Chapter 9 Lisson Goes to New York 73

Chapter 10 The Art Adviser 83

Tears in the Market Fabric

Chapter 11 Perelman v. Gagosian 95

Chapter 12 The Knoedler Fakes 103

Chapter 13 Government-Plundered Art 113

Chapter 14 Freeports and Tax Ploys 121

Chapter 15 The Uneasy Marriage of Art + Fashion 129

Chapter 16 Art Market Regulation 139

An Uber Future

Chapter 17 Art in an Uber World 149

The New World of Museums

Chapter 18 Not Your Father's Museum 163

Chapter 19 Museum Exhibitions 173

Chapter 20 Private Museums 179

Chapter 21 The Most Influential Buyer 187

The Bubble

Chapter 22 Gaming the Art Bubble 197

Postscript 208

Endnotes 212

More Reading 224

Index 231

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