Art Market Bubble Watch


Sadler reports:

At Barbara Gladstone’s stand, a 2007 Richard Prince painting of three women

was sold before the VIP opening. Prices for Prince’s big new works run from

$5 million to $7 million, said a gallery assistant who declined to be named.

This is crazy money. Prince’s auction

record, for one of his iconic cowboys, is $2.8 million. And although it’s

not unheard-of for new art to go for well above an auction record, one only

expects such a state of affairs when the auction record is weak and the new

art is particularly strong. Neither of those applies in this situation. Prince’s

new paintings, no matter how good they are, will never have the art-historical

importance (and therefore value) of his older rephotographed works.

I’m always very hesitant to call a bubble, but I’m doing that now, with respect

to Prince’s latest works. Collectors are paying for square footage and for a

brand name, and they’re paying through the nose: these paintings are priced

at or above similarly-sized paintings by the likes of Hirst and Koons. In fact,

they might be the most expensive new paintings on the market today: I’m not

even sure that Johns or Twombly or Richter could sell their work for more. And

Johns, Twombly and Richter are all great painters. Prince might be a great artist

(I’m not sure about that), but he certainly isn’t a great painter. These prices

simply will not stand the test of time.

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