THE GREAT CONTEMPORARY ART BUBBLE – artmarketblog.com
For those of you who missed seeing the new documentary on the art market by Ben Lewis titled THE GREAT CONTEMPORARY ART BUBBLE, you can catch it again on Monday the 25th of May at 01:10 on BBC four or download it here:
Ben Lewis’s new documentary
THE GREAT CONTEMPORARY ART BUBBLE
An investigation into the rise and fall of the contemporary art market
Documentary; 60 min
· Prices for top contemporary artists fall 50% by May 2009!
· Sotheby’s given “junk” credit rating by S&P May 5th 2009
· London contemporary art auction sales down 75% in February 2008
· Art market awaits anxiously the Contemporary Art Auctions in New York May 13-14th 2009
· Hirst market near collapse. Art by Hirst fails to sell at Sotheby’s Doha auction, March 2009; no Hirsts in Sotheby’s NY sales.
The contemporary art boom is now over, but between 2003 and Autumn 2008 the world witnessed a craze for collecting contemporary art unprecedented in history
During the last frenzied year of this tulip-style bubble, art critic and film-maker Ben Lewis followed the contemporary art market, travelling to art fairs, auctions, museums, and the offices and homes of billionaire art collectors,, interviewing dealers, auctioneers, gallery-owners, art market analysts and art collectors, trying to find out the reasons behind this historic phenomenon. He uncovered a world of complicated deals, unusual market practices, widespread secrecy as well as passionate enthusiasm for contemporary art.
On September 15th 2008, the day of the collapse of Lehmans, the worst financial news since 1929, Damien Hirst sold over £70 million of his art, in an auction at Sotheby’s that would total £111 million over two days. It was the peak of the contemporary art bubble – the greatest rise in the financial value of art in the history of the world.
One art critic and film-maker was banned by Sotheby’s and Hirst from attending this historic auction: Ben Lewis.
Why? He had spent a year making a documentary investigating the reasons behind the booming contemporary art market, and they claimed he was “biased” against them and contemporary art.
During the easy-credit boom years, there were bubbles in many assets – property, wine, copper, oil. But there was one bubble that was bigger than all the rest: contemporary art. An Andy Warhol sold for $72 million, a Rothko for $73 million, and a Francis Bacon for $86 million. While the rest of the economy began to falter under the Credit Crunch in late 2007, the contemporary art bubble kept on inflating, bigger and fatter than ever before.
Art critic and film-maker Ben Lewis spent all of 2008 investigating this contemporary art bubble. Everywhere he went, the art world told him that the contemporary art boom would go on forever, fuelled by a new passion from the world’s super-rich. But Lewis found other big reasons for the contemporary art boom – a world of unusual market practices, speculation, secrecy and tax breaks that involved the whole art world – dealers, collectors, galleries, auction houses and even public museums.
In the climax of the film, Lewis’ discoveries lead him to play his own part in the bursting of the contemporary art bubble, which is revealed for the first time in this film
Finally the moment came that he had long predicted. A month after the Hirst auction at Sotheby’s, the contemporary art market crashed, dropping by 40% in November 2008 and 75% by February 2009, and still falling today.
The Great Contemporary Art Bubble is not only a film about the art market it is a parable for the mania, delusion and greed which drove the world economy over the edge in 2008. In future years the contemporary art bubble may come to be seen as the epitome of the boom-times we have been living through.
Watch ‘The Great Contemporary Art Bubble’ and discover the reasons behind the biggest, bubbliest bubble of them all!
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