The 0.01 Percent Art Market Is A Ponzi Scheme

Even the Rich Aren’t Rich Enough for Jeff Koons | May 16, 2019

As billionaires compete for art in an overheated market, the merely affluent are giving up. Jeff Koons’s “Rabbit” is the newest record-breaker in the art world.

EARTH CUSTODIANS don’t regard Koons as talented artist at all. He is a sensationalist surrounded by multi-millionaire marketeers inflating the price of his art pieces. He is a Wallstreet commodity and has a 130 employee production team (@1 min in the video below).

Koons does not really do anything himself, besides the design of the concept. When he makes art on demand, he does not apparently stick to his deadlines but since his clients are extremely wealthy, the word of mouth helps fuel speculation.

The art market has a 0.01 percent problem. That much was apparent on Wednesday at the contemporary auction at Christie’s in New York, where a stainless steel rabbit by Jeff Koons sold for $91 million, setting a record price for work by a living artist. If it seems as if these sorts of records seem to be set much more often these days, it’s because they are — just last fall a David Hockney painting sold for $90.3 million, the previous record for a living artist.

Marketing and timing… but the reality is such art prices must keep going up to retain value, should prices go down we’d have crash and burn of the art market. So the 0.01% are playing among themselves the musical chair. But how long can last this ponzi scheme between the super rich? Our guess is that they are aware of the illusion but merely play the game.

Koons and Hockney belong to a circle that is very special as they are only 25 or so multi-millonaire artists selling their works for 100s of 1000s and millions of dollars. Here is the full list:

Art collecting has always been an exclusive activity, but the world of contemporary art, in particular, has become dominated in recent years not by the 1 percent — the millionaires — but by the super-wealthy billionaires of the 0.01 percent.

Just like anything else falling into the tentacles of speculation, eventually it will become unaffordable and priceless. The subjectivity of value cannot be escaped, at best we can believe in value for a while then eventually must face our reckoning. But that is how money also works, such mechanisms are embedded in the concept of money itself.

Inflate or die, inflate and die anyway.

The small and midsize galleries that have long supported and nurtured unknown artists are finding it difficult to survive in the winner-take-all economy of contemporary art, meaning the next Andy Warhol or Donald Judd, who rose through the ranks of the gallery system, might never be discovered.

We do not even need to think about Warhol-like icons, finance has always plagued the market. The difference is that 50 years ago it was a little bit less obvious. In the art field as a whole, only very few can succeed. The stigma of the starving artist is very real. That won’t be the case in a money-free society though.

Recovering even faster than G.D.P., annual sales in the American market have more than doubled since the global financial crisis. According to a 2019 report published by Art Basel and UBS, in 2018 art sales reached nearly $30 billion, compared with just over $12 billion in 2009.

If this is not a ponzi-scheme-bubble, what is this?

But these numbers mask a serious problem: A small number of large galleries and artists took in most of those sales. Art that cost more than $1 million accounted for 40 percent of the market but just 3 percent of transactions. The disparity is most severe in the contemporary market, where living artists’ work is sold out of art galleries. In 2018, sales from the top 20 living artists accounted for 64 percent of the market. Bigger galleries, the top 5 percent in terms of turnover, accounted for more than 50 percent of sales. Sales at smaller galleries declined over the past few years.

That paragraph says it all. Collusion and monopoly tactics are everywhere. The fabric of society is rotten to the core. Eventually taking action will be imposed upon us… no if but when.


Jeff Koons, art dealer running Ponzi scheme: investor | April 19, 2018

Famed sculptor Jeff Koons and the superdealer Larry Gagosian are pulling a Ponzi scheme on the world’s richest art collectors, according to a scathing new lawsuit by multimillionaire investor Steven Tananbaum. Tananbaum, head of the $24 billion GoldenTree Asset Management hedge fund, has paid Koons $13.05 million since 2013 for three sculptures — yet hasn’t received the pieces or even proof that their fabrication is underway. Tananbaum accuses Koons and his Manhattan dealer Gagosian of using “new money” to “pay old obligations.” ……….. While collectors wait “interminably for delivery, Larry Gagosian and Jeff Koons live extravagant lifestyles financed in part by inappropriate and highly questionable practices,” the suit says…. Gagosian’s 16 galleries bring in a reported $1 billion in yearly sales….

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.