Prices for Damien Hirst, Andy Warhol Artworks Are Laughable

Is the art market a leading indicator of this Global Bubble? Or a lagging one?

We don’t know. We watch it for amusement, not for trading signals. And next week, another big art auction should set off giggles.

Would you like to spend millions for a big picture of a dollar sign? How about a big, telescoping geometric pattern? Well, then, get out your wallet, dear reader, because next week both Sotheby’s and Christie’s are set to make history – competing auctions will tell us not only how big bonuses in the financial industry have become, but how batty buyers in the art market can be.

Damien Hirst has a steel cabinet with 6,000 painted pills in it. He calls it Lullaby Spring. Don’t miss that one, dear reader. It’s expected to fetch US$8 million. Bacon, Freud – all of the hustlers of the art world will be on display. And it’s too bad Andy Warhol is dead. Wouldn’t he get a laugh out of seeing his portraits of Marilyn Monroe go on the block! His three prints of Marilyn – cleverly entitled “Three Marilyns” – are expected to bring in US$14 million.

It is merely laughable that someone would judge this kind of stuff so highly. But it is intriguing that they judge it so much more valuable than it was a few years ago. The inflation in contemporary art is breathtaking; it illustrates how nouveau and how riche the nouveau riche really are.

Indians, Russians, Chinese – not to mention Americans and Englishmen – they are all throwing their money around like people who just got rich…and got rich so easily they don’t know the value of it. What to make of it?

Cash and credit is incredibly easy to come by, we conclude. There’s so much of it around, people seem desperate to get rid of it.

We have a suggestion for them. Just hold on. A credit expansion is always followed by a credit contraction. And this credit expansion has led to the world’s first, and biggest, planetary bubble.

When it corrects, it will be the world’s first, and biggest, planetary bust. So keep your eyes on our Crash Alert flag, dear reader. We may be early. But we won’t be wrong.

Bill Bonner
Markets and Money

Bill Bonner

Bill Bonner

Since founding Agora Inc. in 1979, Bill Bonner has found success and garnered camaraderie in numerous communities and industries. A man of many talents, his entrepreneurial savvy, unique writings, philanthropic undertakings, and preservationist activities have all been recognized and awarded by some of America’s most respected authorities. Along with Addison Wiggin, his friend and colleague, Bill has written two New York Times best-selling books, Financial Reckoning Day and Empire of Debt. Both works have been critically acclaimed internationally. With political journalist Lila Rajiva, he wrote his third New York Times best-selling book, Mobs, Messiahs and Markets, which offers concrete advice on how to avoid the public spectacle of modern finance. Since 1999, Bill has been a daily contributor and the driving force behind Markets and Money.

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