Within forty-eight hours in the fall of 2014, buyers in the Sotheby’s and Christie’s New York auction houses spent $1.7 billion on contemporary art. Non-taxed freeport warehouses around the globe are stacked with art held for speculation. One of Jeff Koons’ five chromium-plated stainless steel balloon dogs sold for 50 percent more at auction than the previous record for any living artist. A painting by Christopher Wool, featuring four lines from a Francis Ford Coppola movie stencilled in black on a white background, sold for $28 million. In The Orange Balloon Dog, economist and bestselling author Don Thompson cites these and other fascinating examples to explore the sometimes baffling activities of the high-end contemporary art market. He examines what is at play in the exchange of vast amounts of money and what nudges buyers, even on the subconscious level, to imbue a creation with such high commercial value.
Thompson analyzes the behaviours of buyers and sellers and delves into the competitions that define and alter the value of art in today’s international market, from New York to London, Singapore to Beijing. Take heed if your millions are tied up in stainless steel balloon dogs—Thompson also warns of a looming bust of the contemporary art price balloon.
About the author
Don Thompson is an economist, and emeritus Nabisco Brands Professor of marketing and strategy at the Schulich School of Business at York University in Toronto. He has an MBA and Ph.D. from the University of California, Berkeley, and has taught at Harvard Business School and the London School of Economics. He is the author of twelve books, including the internationally bestselling The $12 Million Stuffed Shark: The Curious Economics of Contemporary Art (St. Martin’s Griffin, 2010) and The Supermodel and the Brillo Box: Back Stories and Peculiar Economics from the World of Contemporary Art (St. Martin’s Griffin, 2014). He has written on the economics of the art market for publications as diverse as The Times (London), Harper’s, Fortune and Apollo. He lives in Toronto.