Billionaires and art

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NY Times does an interesting bit of number crunching on the sale of Picasso’s Les femmes d’Alger (Version O), which fetched $179m – a new world record at auction.

Why are art prices rocketing? It is to do with a limited pool of artefacts, and a growing pool of wealth at the top. For its analysis, the NY Times says why not assume that a buyer might comfortably spend 1% of net worth on a painting, in which case…

After adjusting for inflation and using our 1 percent of net worth premise, a person would have needed $12.3 billion of wealth in 1997 dollars to afford the painting. Look to the Forbes list for that year, and only a dozen families worldwide cleared that bar.


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