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The Art Market is a Scam (And Rich People Run It)

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The Art Market is a Scam (And Rich People Run It)

Wendover Productions,

5 min read
3 take-aways
Audio & text

What's inside?

The fine art market isn’t the meritocracy you may think it is.

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Have you ever looked at a canvas splashed with paint, had a peek at the price tag and thought to yourself, “My 2-year-old could do that, and she would charge far less than $4 million for her work”? If so, you’re not alone, but you also don’t understand the modern art market. According to this informative video from Wendover Productions, fine art valuation has less to do with artistic skill and beauty, and much more to do with shrewd financial moves, tax avoidance and market manipulation.


The art market is small, subjective and unregulated.

Each year, China, the United Kingdom and the United States generate some 82% of all global art sale revenues – mostly in Hong Kong, London and New York City. One study reveals that just five galleries represented 11 out of 12 artists with solo exhibitions at the prestigious Guggenheim museum. Big art dealers have very few buyers, so both the dealers and the buyers are powerful, exerting excessive influence over the market as a whole.

The art market produces annual revenue of about $61.9 billion, which sounds like a lot until you realize that Walmart sells merchandise for that same amount in about 41 days, and that the global tomato market’s sales are about $190.4 billion a year. The difference between the art market and tomatoes...

About the Speaker

Wendover Productions is an educational YouTube channel created by Sam Denby in 2010. His other channels include Half as Interesting and Extremities.

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