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The Value of Art: Money, Power, Beauty

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What is art worth? How can a work by Pablo Picasso be sold for more than $100,000,000? This fascinating book explains the market for art--and art's value for all of us. In straightforward prose that doesn't mystify art or deny its special allure, prominent art dealer and market expert Michael Findlay offers a close up and personal view of almost a half century in the busin What is art worth? How can a work by Pablo Picasso be sold for more than $100,000,000? This fascinating book explains the market for art--and art's value for all of us. In straightforward prose that doesn't mystify art or deny its special allure, prominent art dealer and market expert Michael Findlay offers a close up and personal view of almost a half century in the business of art. He engagingly explains art's three kinds of value: commercial; social; and what he terms its essential value--the range of responses to art that we as individuals have depending on our culture, education, and life experience. Few avid collectors are immune to the thrill of rising market value, but Findlay argues that buying for investment alone is seldom smart. A genuine love of art and the ways it may enrich one's social life also play important roles. Down-to-earth and with a touch of dry wit, he explains exactly how artworks are valued and reveals the workings of the art market. Enhancing his narrative are wise advice, insider anecdotes, and tales of scoundrels and scams, celebrity collectors, and remarkable discoveries. Generously illustrated, Findlay's distillation of a lifetime's experience makes this insider's guide indispensable for all who love art, not only collectors but true "amateurs" as well.


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What is art worth? How can a work by Pablo Picasso be sold for more than $100,000,000? This fascinating book explains the market for art--and art's value for all of us. In straightforward prose that doesn't mystify art or deny its special allure, prominent art dealer and market expert Michael Findlay offers a close up and personal view of almost a half century in the busin What is art worth? How can a work by Pablo Picasso be sold for more than $100,000,000? This fascinating book explains the market for art--and art's value for all of us. In straightforward prose that doesn't mystify art or deny its special allure, prominent art dealer and market expert Michael Findlay offers a close up and personal view of almost a half century in the business of art. He engagingly explains art's three kinds of value: commercial; social; and what he terms its essential value--the range of responses to art that we as individuals have depending on our culture, education, and life experience. Few avid collectors are immune to the thrill of rising market value, but Findlay argues that buying for investment alone is seldom smart. A genuine love of art and the ways it may enrich one's social life also play important roles. Down-to-earth and with a touch of dry wit, he explains exactly how artworks are valued and reveals the workings of the art market. Enhancing his narrative are wise advice, insider anecdotes, and tales of scoundrels and scams, celebrity collectors, and remarkable discoveries. Generously illustrated, Findlay's distillation of a lifetime's experience makes this insider's guide indispensable for all who love art, not only collectors but true "amateurs" as well.

30 review for The Value of Art: Money, Power, Beauty

  1. 4 out of 5

    Sketchbook

    Savvy art worldling Findlay (an insider for over 40 years) gazes deeply into this world and examines 'reasons for buying' : investment, the social ladder, and, for a few (people like us), aesthetic pleasure. Investment-social buyers are, as we know, vulgarians. And always stupid. You see them at the big auctions, their names are familiar to us. The dealers ? Aaah, yes, the familiar names -the media names you know - are using the art world for criminal purposes or gov-asset reasons to promote an Savvy art worldling Findlay (an insider for over 40 years) gazes deeply into this world and examines 'reasons for buying' : investment, the social ladder, and, for a few (people like us), aesthetic pleasure. Investment-social buyers are, as we know, vulgarians. And always stupid. You see them at the big auctions, their names are familiar to us. The dealers ? Aaah, yes, the familiar names -the media names you know - are using the art world for criminal purposes or gov-asset reasons to promote an "agenda." It's a neat place to "float" anything ! Findlay names no names. He doesn't have to. We know this, especially if you read NYT which pushes the commerciality of the art world and expands the corruption. Btw, NYT is one of the few papers to ignore Findlay's book. It figures.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Elizabeth

    Really, really great. It took me a little while to make my way through it (as it is with all nonfiction books for me, these days), but I loved how Findlay explained the different approaches to collecting and the art market. What made the book special were all those personal anecdotes he threw in about various collectors he's met over the years and the images interspersed throughout. It was fascinating to learn about a woman in Montana who had a thing for one particular blue period Picasso, and t Really, really great. It took me a little while to make my way through it (as it is with all nonfiction books for me, these days), but I loved how Findlay explained the different approaches to collecting and the art market. What made the book special were all those personal anecdotes he threw in about various collectors he's met over the years and the images interspersed throughout. It was fascinating to learn about a woman in Montana who had a thing for one particular blue period Picasso, and then get to see the image in all it's glory on the opposing page.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Tyler

    Michael Findlay opened a gallery in SoHo in the '60s, showing young artists like John Baldessari and Sean Scully. He would go on to serve as head of Impressionist and modern paintings at the auction giant Christie's, and he's since served as the director of New York's Aquavella Galleries, which specialize in showing and selling the work of 19th and 20th century titans. With a resume like that, it's clear Findlay possesses an acute business-of-art acumen, and would be exactly the guy to write a b Michael Findlay opened a gallery in SoHo in the '60s, showing young artists like John Baldessari and Sean Scully. He would go on to serve as head of Impressionist and modern paintings at the auction giant Christie's, and he's since served as the director of New York's Aquavella Galleries, which specialize in showing and selling the work of 19th and 20th century titans. With a resume like that, it's clear Findlay possesses an acute business-of-art acumen, and would be exactly the guy to write a book called "The Value of Art." Those expecting a droll, ins-and-outs of the sale account of the grimy, speculative art market of the last few decades, though, will be in for a surprise. While he does spend a substantial amount of time discussing the financial corners of the art world (essential reading for any budding arts professional), the book takes as its premise the idea that the value of art is threefold. The first type of value he tackles is the one with which we'd expect him to be most familiar, the commercial. He shares anecdotes from his years brokering sales both private and public, taking care to protect the names of the most blithe speculators and showy collectors he's worked for. A collector once called asking for something like "any Picasso up to $8,000,000." In this first part he also manages to offer a brief history of the auction spectacle, something very much of the last few decades. It wasn't until '73, with the sale of the Sculls' collection of early Pop work, that a major auction house would start to regularly sell the work of living artists. But not until the Sotheby's sale of Florence Gould's collection of Impressionist works in '85 would we see what Findlay calls the "auction-as-circus." That sale saw a van Gogh painting smash its high estimate of around $5,000,000 and sell for a then-record $10,000,000. Today, applause literally ripples across a sales floor when a Rothko or Warhol goes for $80,000,000, and the ever-growing prices grab headlines around the world. The second type of value Findlay identifies is the social value, the entry to a certain social circle of like-minded art enthusiasts. This can be all about glamour, sure, as a big canvas by a big-ticket artist is sure to remind or announce to the crowd the wealth of the buyer, but, for many, this legitimately offers a chance to share in a rich cultural history, one which those with an upbringing free of art may be experiencing for the first time. The third value is perhaps the most elusive, but certainly the one most treasured by the best collectors. This is simply the enjoyment of contemplating the work itself. Difficult to define succinctly, while getting at the "essential" value of art, the author shares a quote from Kafka. "[Art] should serve as the axe for the frozen sea within us." Findlay says he can't imagine a collector who doesn't at all consider the commercial value of his collection, but those who buy primarily for the sake of this third value are the ones he champions. Sidney Janis, the man behind the two-pocket short-sleeved shirt, who would later leave fashion to sell art full-time, said the true collector to be "a man who has to buy paintings whether he can afford them or not." He goes on to offer his opinion about art theories (not theories at all, he says, considering the lack of empirical proof regarding meaning), the best practice for considering works of the past (don't treat the work as a puzzle to be unlocked by studying the bio and history of an artist, he says), and he emphasizes the power of simply looking at as much art as you can to develop an immediate, visceral sense for the types of works you may want to spend more time with later. It's a good book.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Donald

    Michael Findlay is an art dealer, and this book contains a bit too much details about auctions and their prices for me. But he is clearly someone who loves art, and I am in enthusiastic agreement with his comments on the value of actually looking at a painting. For example his comment on P117 - "If I look at a work of art and it leaves me cold, what can I hear or read about it that will profoundly change my attitude? If I look at a work of art and I am profoundly moved, what can I hear or read a Michael Findlay is an art dealer, and this book contains a bit too much details about auctions and their prices for me. But he is clearly someone who loves art, and I am in enthusiastic agreement with his comments on the value of actually looking at a painting. For example his comment on P117 - "If I look at a work of art and it leaves me cold, what can I hear or read about it that will profoundly change my attitude? If I look at a work of art and I am profoundly moved, what can I hear or read about it that matters more?". I liked his advice about how to visit and exhibition - go with at most two friends - each wanders aimlessly, choosing one work they like and spends at least 5 minutes looking at it, and then you each share your thoughts with the others.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Castles

    A very interesting debate from a very experienced man, though I must admit that I didn’t like the writing style that much and I’m not sure that this book left me with that much. I picked this book up right after the colorful book “seven days in the art world”, so I guess I naturally compared the two and found the difference in tone hard to connect to. Still, it’s another nice and perhaps important read if you want to learn how the contemporary art world is working financially.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Sue Smith

    An interesting look at art - how we value it, how it becomes valuable and why, and the importance of having it in our lives. It was nice to have his thoughts divided into the three aspects we see art in - the economic, or commodity of art, the social aspect of art and the enjoyment of it. Seeing it in such bared down terms, it has made me appreciate some things about it that I hadn't given much thought to. Being an artist - or at least, having the desire to create art but never feeling fulfilled An interesting look at art - how we value it, how it becomes valuable and why, and the importance of having it in our lives. It was nice to have his thoughts divided into the three aspects we see art in - the economic, or commodity of art, the social aspect of art and the enjoyment of it. Seeing it in such bared down terms, it has made me appreciate some things about it that I hadn't given much thought to. Being an artist - or at least, having the desire to create art but never feeling fulfilled in those goals - I was curious to see what he saw the 'value' of art was. Happily, it seems to fit all the molds - an investment tool (albeit an unstable one), a social status ("look what I just picked up") and something to give great joy for no greater reason than "just because". Ultimately, his greatest advice was to simply establish a relationship with it. Follow your heart and don't apologize for what moves you. Art speaks to different people in different ways and there are no wrong turns or errors. That is the true value of art.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Shaun Johnson

    There were many interesting revelations in this book. However, there was a lot of filler, like the publisher demanded X-amount of pages when 100 less would have sufficed. With that said, it indulged too much in personal beliefs and less about facts, which is why I bought this. Regardless, it does contain very useful information.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Bernard

    An introductory book to the art market. The book is interesting as the art market is always obscure and unknown to general public. The author has deep knowledge given his professional background and the details over the different actor in the market is very informative. I tend to agree with the author that at the end, art is about personal taste. So lets just sit back and let the art piece impact you without considering its monetary value or historical background.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Carlos Oliver

    The art world anecdotes are fun, and I definitely learned a bit about art collecting. However I felt the author was holding back too much on saying why he thought certain works were valuable and instead went for the safe bet of just telling people to go with their gut. Also a bit heavy on the namedropping.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Emma

    Liked it a lot. Read it quickly.

  11. 5 out of 5

    wabb1t

    Excellent on the monetary value of art, interesting on the social value of art, and undistinguished on art's "intrinsic" value - perhaps as one would expect of an art dealer!

  12. 5 out of 5

    Vedast Sanxis

    This book helps us understand how is it possible that some artworks are worth even 9 figures, what collectors care about, what makes them appreciate some particular items.

  13. 4 out of 5

    Vonetta

    In my growth as a finance nerd, I've become increasingly ingriued about alternative investments, and not just the traditional ones that fit that description. I love buying art to look at it, but I'm wondering more about how it fits into an investment portfolio. It's sort of like buying consumer stocks -- you buy the stocks of companies you know and love, then you realize that consumers are incredibly fickle and you'd have been better off buying IBM. But it's the thrill of it all! Findlay does a In my growth as a finance nerd, I've become increasingly ingriued about alternative investments, and not just the traditional ones that fit that description. I love buying art to look at it, but I'm wondering more about how it fits into an investment portfolio. It's sort of like buying consumer stocks -- you buy the stocks of companies you know and love, then you realize that consumers are incredibly fickle and you'd have been better off buying IBM. But it's the thrill of it all! Findlay does a great job of explaining the possibilities of art as an investment (usually not a good idea) and an even better job of contending that you should get what you like looking at, not what's "good," academically speaking. I might have to buy a copy of this as a reference for the future.

  14. 5 out of 5

    Tiffany Dharma

    Leveraging his years of experience as a dealer, Findlay nimbly walks the amateur art enthusiast through the sociological mire that is the art world. His writing is clear and structured, making the book a quick and enjoyable read. He frequently draws on his own experiences as explanations, so the narrative feels warm and personable. However, I felt like some chapters focused too much on the subjective value of art and his own opinions on art appreciation. Because I was most interested in learning Leveraging his years of experience as a dealer, Findlay nimbly walks the amateur art enthusiast through the sociological mire that is the art world. His writing is clear and structured, making the book a quick and enjoyable read. He frequently draws on his own experiences as explanations, so the narrative feels warm and personable. However, I felt like some chapters focused too much on the subjective value of art and his own opinions on art appreciation. Because I was most interested in learning about art valuation from an economic standpoint, these chapters felt a bit fluffy. I would have preferred expansion in earlier chapters on pricing and relationship dynamics instead. Overall, a good overview that falls short of being comprehensive.

  15. 5 out of 5

    Andrew

    Findlay outlines how value is established in art. It is a fascinating read, at times a little dry and technical, but his insider view of the machinations of art dealing, collectors, auction houses, etc provides some fascinating reading. Ok I finished it a year ago and forgot to follow up. It was interesting. It felt like guide book for insiders on how to navigate the business of the art world. For artists (like me) it felt like a credible read, not the kind of book filled with gossip and bs, rath Findlay outlines how value is established in art. It is a fascinating read, at times a little dry and technical, but his insider view of the machinations of art dealing, collectors, auction houses, etc provides some fascinating reading. Ok I finished it a year ago and forgot to follow up. It was interesting. It felt like guide book for insiders on how to navigate the business of the art world. For artists (like me) it felt like a credible read, not the kind of book filled with gossip and bs, rather a simply stated point of view and candid observations on how the art world works. No blood and guts here but some helpful and sober information.

  16. 4 out of 5

    Quiver

    I was pleasantly surprised by the frank tone of the author about what makes art collectors tick. The rather generic title may sound uninspiring, but in retrospect, it accurately summarises the contents of the book. There are four sections: the first three describe why collectors collect (to acquire more money, more social power, or more enjoyment from the art they buy), and the last is a summary of the art market climate as it was, a discussion of what it is now, and some ideas of what it might I was pleasantly surprised by the frank tone of the author about what makes art collectors tick. The rather generic title may sound uninspiring, but in retrospect, it accurately summarises the contents of the book. There are four sections: the first three describe why collectors collect (to acquire more money, more social power, or more enjoyment from the art they buy), and the last is a summary of the art market climate as it was, a discussion of what it is now, and some ideas of what it might become. All in all, you get what is advertised in the title, packaged in refreshing, light prose, which is not in any way glib or flippant.

  17. 5 out of 5

    Yasha Jain

    This book started on a very promising note of opening and explaining the art , the thought behind the it and what a buyer sees in the art. I'd say it decently lives upto the expectation. It's made interesting by his personal anecdotes and the stories of artists' lives than the actual explanations of the book. Maybe i found it blasé to bring down art to an act of buying and selling. Then again, it's difficult to explain the softer aspects of artists thought. I'd say it is a decent starting point This book started on a very promising note of opening and explaining the art , the thought behind the it and what a buyer sees in the art. I'd say it decently lives upto the expectation. It's made interesting by his personal anecdotes and the stories of artists' lives than the actual explanations of the book. Maybe i found it blasé to bring down art to an act of buying and selling. Then again, it's difficult to explain the softer aspects of artists thought. I'd say it is a decent starting point to the world of art.

  18. 4 out of 5

    Susan Tan

    The best book on contemporary art you'll ever read. This is an inside peek inside the world of galleries, art fairs, art museums and the art collectors who make up the art world.

  19. 4 out of 5

    Sally H.

    How to really appreciate art, social value of art. INTERESTING ON THE SOCIAL VALUE AND COMMERICALIZATION OF ART.

  20. 5 out of 5

    Patricia L.

    Do you snack on art? Well this book helps you understand the ingredients in your fast food.

  21. 4 out of 5

    D.

    Great book. You will know what determin art value, etc. Also i like the way it's written, you read it fast and enjoying it.

  22. 5 out of 5

    Victoria

  23. 4 out of 5

    Vanessa Valdez

  24. 5 out of 5

    Jamie White

  25. 5 out of 5

    Stefanie

  26. 4 out of 5

    Maria

  27. 5 out of 5

    Francesca Viliani

  28. 5 out of 5

    Judit

  29. 4 out of 5

    Keith Suta

  30. 5 out of 5

    Michele Dragonetti

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