Another Asset Bubble Cracks: Art Sales Plunge

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“As far as I am concerned, this is a catastrophe.” 

After a blistering five-year boom of near limitless possibilities, it is suddenly getting tough in another asset class – one that mere commoner millionaires are not invited to play in: the high-dollar art market.

Auction house Sotheby’s reported on Monday that revenues in the first quarter plunged 32% from a year ago. Agency commissions and fees, the largest subcategory, plummeted 37%. Expenses edged up. Hence a resounding operating loss of $32 million – a $50-million swing from its $18 million profit a year ago.

On the news, Sotheby’s shares plunged 8%, at one point trading below $26 a share, but then miraculously bounced back and today closed at $28.72. Yet, they’re still down 38% from their 52-week high last June, and 46% from the post-financial crisis high in December 2013, the halcyon days when QE was still inflating the art market and the wealth of its participants.

At the same time, a debacle played out at Sotheby’s art sale. At its auction in New York yesterday evening, Sotheby’s sold $144.5 million in impressionist and modern art, down 61% from the auction a year ago, the worst performance since 2009.

Of the 61 lots, 21 went unsold. So only 66% of the offered pieces turned into deals.

“As far as I am concerned, this is a catastrophe,” Todd Levin, director of Levin Art Group in New York, told Bloomberg. “It’s not just enough to get the works, you have to close the deals,” he said.

There were some winners, including Auguste Rodin’s sculpture “L’Eternel Printemps,” which sold for $20.4 million, well above the presale estimate of $8 million. But those were the lucky ones. Bloomberg:

The biggest casualty at Sotheby’s was Andre Derain’s painting of a red sailboat, estimated at $15 million to $20 million. It didn’t get a single bid in the Upper East Side salesroom. Several works by Pablo Picasso also flopped, along with pieces by Paul Gauguin and Pierre-Auguste Renoir.

“That’s very much a reflection of the marketplace we are in right now,” said Helena Newman, Sotheby’s global co-head of Impressionist and modern art. Like many dealers and advisers, she described the market as “discerning” and “selective.” She added that the estimates for London sales in June will “reflect what we saw tonight.”

Premonitions of the debacle already became clear on Sunday at the post-war and contemporary art auctions held at Christie’s and Phillips, that kicked off a series of big semiannual auctions this week with a combined target estimate of $1.1 billion to $1.6 billion.

At Christie’s auction, only $78.1 million in post-war and contemporary art was sold. By comparison, at its auction a year ago, sales reached $658.5 million – over eight times this year’s tally!

Given the dismal conditions of the market this year, the auction was kept small: only 39 lots were offered, and all but one sold. But according to Art Net News, “activity and bidding in the sale room frequently seemed strained and sluggish throughout the sale.”

Art collectors that participate in these auctions are very wealthy, and most have enough liquidity to where they don’t have to sell, unless they’re caught up in a major financial nightmare. When the market gets shaky, they – and the industry gurus that advise them – figure that they might want to wait for better times rather than unload the art and further depress an already “apprehensive” market, as Brett Gorvy, Christie’s global head of postwar and contemporary art, called it euphemistically.

At Phillips, a boutique auction house owned by Russia’s Mercury Group, the auction offered 37 lots on Sunday. Three failed to sell. The rest sold for a total of $46.6 million, down by about half from a year ago.

“That’s largely a result of a contracting market,” Phillips CEO Ed Dolman told Bloomberg. “We are going to see smaller sales across the board.”

These investors – and their appetite for art – have been beaten up by a slew of unsavory post-QE factors: volatile stock markets, with some of the markets around the globe deep into a bear market; residential real estate in trophy cities that is starting to sag; an oil-price crash that hit Russian oligarchs particularly hard; crummy hedge-fund performance where some big-name hedge funds have turned into veritable money evaporators; PE firms that are starting to take losses….

These factors seemed unimaginable during the glory days of QE and “QE Infinity,” in the now bygone era when central banks were still considered omnipotent market inflators that would always be able to transfer more wealth to those who already had the most.

But now there’s anxiety among these investors that have become so much wealthier during those seven years of what Ben Bernanke called the “wealth effect.” Suddenly, they’re worried that this system has hit its limits, and that some sense of reality – a horrid concept – might return to some of the markets and their valuations, and this anxiety is making them skittish.

Already, the luxury condo boom in Lower Manhattan has turned into a phenomenal glut, and prices are beginning to sag. Read…  Another Condo Bubble Bites the Dust

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  81 comments for “Another Asset Bubble Cracks: Art Sales Plunge

  1. May 10, 2016 at 6:42 pm

    Looks like we are about to find out who the “greater fools” are.

    Anyone have an estimate of how much of this grossly overpriced art is collateral? Given the way “leveraged” bank credit works this could be very bad for the lenders, and then the depositors/taxpayers [and CDS counter-parties].

    • MC
      May 11, 2016 at 1:53 am

      I cannot give an extimate, but I can tell you my main bank has just opened an exhibition displaying a small part of their art collections. It consists of 145 items, including paintings by Rubens, Caravaggio, Perugino etc. And I heard they don’t even like speaking about the “good stuff” they have in their safes.
      How a large bank may have obtained such items, I leave to readers to imagine.

      • walter map
        May 11, 2016 at 8:26 am

        “How a large bank may have obtained such items, I leave to readers to imagine.”

        Spoils of war.

        The billionaire artsy set is backing off for the time being, for reasons which should be obvious. They’ll be back after the feeding frenzy when they’re flush with fresh funds.

      • nick kelly
        May 11, 2016 at 9:26 am

        Let’s drop in, take a look around, check things out…

        • MC
          May 11, 2016 at 11:13 am

          If Lady Christina De Souza leads the way, I am in.

          [Obscure Dr Who reference for the day]

    • Petunia
      May 11, 2016 at 8:17 am

      I believe the auction houses provide credit to many buyers of the high end pieces. This provides them with extra income, as well as, a potential to resell the piece in the future. It also saddles the auction house with the risk of default.

      Much of the Japanese purchases in the 80’s and 90’s were purchased and financed by the large corporations in Japan. The art was used to both gain status for the companies and stash the cash.

      May 11, 2016 at 9:37 am

      Yep, looks like I’ll have to keep my Monet, Cezanne, Renoir, etc for another season.

      Imagine, I was looking forward to re-modeling my den. Damn.

  2. Petunia
    May 10, 2016 at 8:21 pm

    The art in the art market is as tired as the economy. There is no new inventory bringing in the younger less affluent buyer. No new artist, except Banksy, creating any buzz in the industry. How many times can you sell the same paintings and artists, before it becomes stale. Art is primarily a decorative art, not an investment, it needs a flow of new talent to keep up the interest.

    • MC
      May 11, 2016 at 2:14 am

      While the high end art market has been literally skyrocketing of late, the rest has been stagnating or contracting like the rest of the economy for years. Big spenders are not interested in more “ordinary” objects, such as Persian rugs, okimono (Japanese ivory carvings), silverware etc.
      Prices have been depressed or have decreased since 2013 at least because no new buyers appear while supply steadily increases as more and more collections are put up for sale.

      Young buyers are generally uninterested. If they have the money.

      I grew up in a house whose floors were covered with genuine Persian rugs. My mother is to this day enamored with them. My house is pretty much the same. But lately prices have taken a nosedive and the two largest rug merchants in the region, both active since the early 50’s and both family-owned businesses, have closed down because the demand is not just there anymore.
      Their main customers were not so much the billionaires but the middle class, for which having a Persian rug in the living room was in the days of yore a status symbol.
      Hence their customer base has been steadily evaporating since the 90’s.
      Young people these days do away with rugs (extra maintenance) or buy those horrible synthetic ones from Ikea.

      The same could be said about everything else.

      • Colorado Kid
        May 11, 2016 at 12:35 pm

        I buy “horrible” synthetic rugs from Habitat for Humanity Restore. They look fine and my dogs love them. And only $100 for a big 8 by 10.

    • Agnes
      May 11, 2016 at 2:56 am

      I spent 30$ I ought not to have because I wanted a painting from the local coffeeshop. Then the artist put up some larger works including one called “The Night of the Blood Moon” that just knocks my sox off(at 250$ way beyond my price range). He has been invited to show in Jackson Hole soonish. My favorite exhibit here were some Raku Ray Guns….They gave me such joy to admire them.

      • May 11, 2016 at 8:18 am

        In my younger years, I used to think of myself as an “artist.” Even majored in fine arts in college for a couple of years. Finally gave up when the money-making part became apparent to me.

        It’s very hard to make a living if you spend days, weeks, or months working on a piece that you cannot sell, or you might sell for $30.

        So Kudos, Agnes, for buying the painting!

        Buy the works of your favorite local artists! I don’t think there’s anyone out there who appreciates your money (and your gesture of support and your expression of “like”) more!

        • Bigfoot
          May 11, 2016 at 8:43 am

          Same here, artist & musician. Also realized early on that making a living practicing either wasn’t very feasable. Teaching seems to be the avenue of least resistance. There is no price than can be put on the personal gratification of creating something.

          One of the things I do is carve highly detailed scenes on eggshells (ostrich/emu). I work with glass also. The reality is nobody is going to compensate me for all the hours it takes to make my art.

          Just like everything else, we should all be buying local & the talent pool out there is very large. I always see some great stuff at the local art fairs.

        • Colorado Kid
          May 11, 2016 at 12:46 pm

          I contemplated art while in college, then decided it would be foolish to create something you couldn’t replicate and sell over and over. I knew about art prints, but they’re not worth as much as the original. So I went on to other things. Probably a good thing, as talent is a necessary ingredient.

        • Sgt Milstar
          May 11, 2016 at 1:29 pm

          Almost as bad as selling cars Wolf?

        • May 11, 2016 at 1:51 pm


  3. nick kelly
    May 10, 2016 at 8:53 pm

    I have a book all about the history of one painting- portrait of Dr.Gachet by Van Gogh.
    At one point seized by the Nazis as degenerate it was however coveted by Goring and Hitler.
    The story leads up to the clash in the 90’s between two Japanese moguls who suddenly break the deadlock at around 40 million and push it up over 100 million.
    Shortly thereafter came the Japanese stock market collapse (from 39,000) and real estate crash, and the guy lost the painting.

    I think the art market is a very good barometer- no one NEEDS it and it is entirely discretionary. And also, I wonder how many of these ultra- high end buyers really appreciate these objects and how much is bragging rights, or the hope that the value will rise.
    In a downturn these both evaporate quickly.

    • polecat
      May 10, 2016 at 9:48 pm

      How can one appreciate what they’ve purchased…when it’s wisked straight to a vault !!

      I create my own art….I look at and admire it every day….some I even give away…..

      the one thing I don’t do is spend a fortune to acquire it……

    • CrazyCooter
      May 11, 2016 at 12:56 am

      I moved to Alaska. Man can not touch what God has made.

      Don’t believe me? Spend a summer up here – it is truly breath taking to live in a small town (~30k) that is almost 1k miles from the next larger population center.

      In the long run, we are all goners – and our species as well given a longer run – might as well enjoy the time.



      • Colorado Kid
        May 11, 2016 at 12:38 pm

        I spent last summer in Alaska and loved it – have lots of family up there. They migrated from Colorado in the 50s. All you need for fine art in Alaska is big windows.

      • Mark
        May 12, 2016 at 10:38 am

        Wonderfully said Cooter.
        I feel the same when going T&C, with beautiful view of Atlantic ocean from my 1bdrm condo.

  4. Mark
    May 10, 2016 at 9:29 pm

    Art should not be for sale and in private collections.
    It should be all in museums and for mere price of $25 anybody can enjoy beauty without spending millions.

    • May 10, 2016 at 9:45 pm

      Some of this art is loaned to museums. This has numerous benefits for the owner, including not having to worry about safekeeping that $50-million painting.

      Also, when there’s a special exhibit – a Picasso exhibit, for example – it will show works owned by collectors (and museums) from all over the world.

      So not every piece remains hidden. But then, many do remain hidden, and we’ll never see them.

    • Petunia
      May 11, 2016 at 8:03 am

      Art is always sold to private collectors because they are the patrons that provide a living to artists. Art never goes from the artist to the museum. It stays in private hands acquiring value long before the museums recognize its value. The value of art is very dependent on tastes and even who owns it. Velvet Elvis is junk unless it is the Velvet Elvis in the collection of Bruce Springsteen.

      • Faithful Reader
        May 12, 2016 at 9:41 pm

        The way less famous artists get into museums is to donate a piece. That happens in my small artsy town. But I agree, it’s the people who decide what is good, those wonderful people who collect, truly collect, such as Dr Barnes of the Barnes collection stolen from his independent foundation museum by the Philadelphia Art Museum. Of course, this was after snubbing Dr. Barnes and his “terrible”collection for over 50 years while he was alive.

    • Dealer
      May 11, 2016 at 9:43 pm

      Admission to the Metropolitan museum of Art in NYC is free. The $25 is a suggested fee (which many pay).

      Too bad all that fine art is in a city that will either be flooded by global warming or nuked. It would be best to move the collection to Montana.

    • Dan Pershing
      May 12, 2016 at 5:57 pm

      How very Trotskiite of you comrade.

  5. Tailspin
    May 10, 2016 at 9:36 pm

    So if we view art as currency then this is deflationary.

    Fits in well with my theory that gold and all commodities will continue to tank once the Chinese finish up with their nonstop stimulus. The real world of real needs is overwhelmed with overcapacity.

    Since markets continue to rally it appears all that ‘Art money’ is going into the stock markets. Could be a May fluke, but looks like Dow 36,000 is on the horizon.

    Just view stocks as art devoid of intrinsic worth and you’ll get my point. Bidding up stocks is easier than attending an auction.

    • Markar
      May 11, 2016 at 9:16 am

      Gold will one day soon reveal itself as anything but a commodity. When the current world wide fiat currency insanity self destructs, it will again return as the ultimate store of wealth, as his has for thousands of years.

  6. OutLookingIn
    May 10, 2016 at 11:07 pm

    I keep an eye on the global auction market.

    One piece that is coming up for bid is a flawless 15 carat heart shaped pink diamond. That is forecasted to go for $50 million on the top end. The end selling price, if it makes it past the reserve, will be a “tell” as to the health of high end individual wealth and available liquidity.

    Again this year Ritchie Brothers Auctioneers (world wide) of heavy equipment are having a banner year, however prices paid are down again year over year. Deflationary. Excess supply of equipment will take years to work through the system. More bad news for CAT.

    • Petunia
      May 11, 2016 at 8:26 am

      I a world where diamonds can be manufactured I would stay away from diamonds, especially for that kind of money. I think the diamond business is in for a big fall. I love diamonds but the availability of the fakes has killed the market. It is almost better to buy flawed diamonds because at least you can tell they are real.

      • MC
        May 11, 2016 at 11:18 am

        More than manufactured diamonds, the problem is Russia.

        To raise some sorely needed hard cash, the Kremlin authorized the release of several millions karats from “strategic reserves” which are entering the market as we speak.
        Most of these diamonds are industrial grade, but at least 20% of the total is supposed to be “gem grade”, meaning diamonds suitable to jewelry purposes and hence as a store of wealth.

        I wonder how robo traders will manage to drive up the price of diamonds as well considering the spectacular success they’ve had with oil.

        • Petunia
          May 11, 2016 at 12:27 pm

          As a recovering fashionista I can tell you the prices in retail jewelry are not falling. Gold and diamonds are at the highest levels I have ever seen them. There is a lot of substitution of metals and gems going on. Silver is the new gold and white sapphires have replaced diamonds. By substituting just these two items you can bring a piece of jewelry down from several thousand dollars to several hundred.

          There are also brands of diamond jewelry that use industrial grade diamonds and sell them at premium prices using unscrupulous marketing techniques.

        • Dan Pershing
          May 12, 2016 at 6:04 pm

          “Gold is the highest price I have seen it…”

          Petunia, are you three years old? Three years ago gold was over $1800.00 per ounce, when you posted it was about $1300.00 per ounce.

          HINT: Go back to fashion.

        • Petunia
          May 13, 2016 at 2:27 pm


          I was referring to retail jewelry which always lags the market.

  7. Davebee
    May 11, 2016 at 12:55 am

    Boo-Hoo…It couldn’t have happened to a more deserving gang of show off’s from the predatory auction houses to the greedy little clowns who have more money than sense and bid these rectangles of canvas into obscene price levels.
    Way to go Mr. and Ms. Arrogant Tape Worms.
    I cannot think of a more apt way of of using this as a means of bolstering the need for a bit more socialism out there!
    PS. Anybody know if these same fine art ‘collectors’ are grubby slumlords avariciously taking 60% of their tenants salaries as rentals?

    • Petunia
      May 11, 2016 at 8:38 am

      I know of a couple, the Schulls, who owned a taxi cab company in New York City who bought pop art in the 60’s – 80’s. Most of the pieces they bought for less than a few hundred dollars. When the husband died the collection was valued in the hundreds of millions.

  8. CrazyCooter
    May 11, 2016 at 1:09 am

    The problem with art is largely marketing – people emphasize, usually after the death of the creator – paintings and such. But pretty much anything man makes can be considered art. Hell, I still cook with my grandmother’s cast iron skillet – which isn’t available in any form these days and I consider a manufacturing work of art.

    A good garden is a work of art. Productive fishing is a work of art. Software. A classic car reborn. A house can be a work of art (e.g. F. L. Wright). You get the idea.

    These high dollar markets are just the herd, albeit wealthy, focusing their greed and envy on a select group of objects the herd wants to compete to own – often times to show off to each other – nothing more. The desire for status is deeply ingrained in our species and tends to run strong with those competitive types who end up on the upper end of the earning curve.

    But, why bother with all that. The best things in life are truly free.

    Case in point – dandelions are going gonzo up here. Literally everywhere by the droves. Everyone thinks they are weeds, but today I drove miles and miles – yellow flowers the whole way because the sun was out – I just couldn’t help but think of a “yellow brick road” because it felt that way. Blue tide waters. Green mountains. Snow caps that fade right into bright clouds and blue sky.

    Can’t wait for the bluebonnets and fireweed.



    • Bigfoot
      May 11, 2016 at 7:06 am

      CC – You might want to think about incorporating those dandelions into your diet. One mans weed is another mans dinner. Good greens!

      I’m pissed about the art market. I had Mrs. Bigfoot roll around on a huge canvas after coating her with various colored paints. Then she dipped a palmetto frond in paint & slung it at the canvas. So far, no buyers. I can’t understand, it worked so well for those elephants.

      Enjoy the day!

      • May 11, 2016 at 8:25 am

        Bigfoot, totally agree.

        We love dandelion leaves in our salads. We also saute radish greens (they’re pungent), the greens from beets, etc.

        Fennel greens are like dill! Love it.

        This stuff comes with the veggies. It’s the throw-way part. So it’s a free gift. It’s delicious and healthy!

    • MC
      May 11, 2016 at 7:14 am

      Speaking of gardens… we often speak about the commodization of smartphones, but little is said about the commodization of rare garden plants.
      In the 50’s a Huang Jin Lun (an ancient Chinese herbaceous peony) sold for $150, not inflation adjusted. In 2012 I bought one for €60. Note that peonies are still propagated as in the 50’s, meaning by division.
      In the 80’s, the first commercial Itoh peony (a hybrid between herbaceous and arbustive peonies), called Bartzella, went on sale. The price for a single division was over $500, not inflation adjusted. There was no auction: they were sold on a strict “first come, first serve” basis.
      Right now you can buy a Bartzella for €20. Rarer Itoh peonies, like Garden Treasure or Copper Kettle, sell for €50 each.
      It’s a whole lot more than your garden variety peony (a division usually sells for as little as €5) but prices have come down a long long way.

      There’s an old saying that goes “All technology is inherently deflationary”.
      We are seeing this with smartphones: many bemoan the prices of the latest offerings from Apple or Samsung but think how much they would have cost just a decade ago.
      Rare plants are not immune. Ancient ones are not covered by patents so everybody can propagate and sell them. Great hybrizers, like Anderson, Nuccio’s or Meilland, make most of their profits by selling licenses to propagate their creations to nurseries around the world.
      The technology to propagate and grow plants has advanced by leaps and bounds since the 50’s. One only needs to visit a commercial scale grower in The Netherlands to understand this. Even a small nursery specializing in rare plants has access to fungicides, antiseptics, climate-controlled greenhouses etc unthinkable just twenty years ago.

      This is something our central planners seem to struggle with: they want scientific advances, but inflation, and lots of it as well. They cannot: it’s like wanting to have the pie and eat it too.

      • nick kelly
        May 11, 2016 at 9:21 am

        I just went to buy pot seeds and they wanted $40 C for a 5 pack!
        If you want feminized auto-flowering you have to buy individual seeds. So now I’ thinking about letting a patch just go to seed.
        Can Monsanto be far behind?

        • MC
          May 11, 2016 at 11:28 am

          I hope you live in a State where that stuff is legal. ;-)

          The problem is Cannabis has male and female plants, just like Mulberry. Occasionally you find a rare Mulberry bearing both male and female flowers (dioicous mutants). It would be feasible to select a monoicous cultivar, but as demand places a large premium on male Mulberries, the incentive is just not there.

          There goes my last chance of getting married in this life! :-D

        • d
          May 11, 2016 at 12:52 pm

          Why let it all go to seed.

          Simply fertilize 1 branch end with a socking. Then harvest the rest normally leaving the fertilized branch to naturally die off.

      • c smith
        May 11, 2016 at 10:01 am

        Deflation is the raison de etre of an economy. The healthiest economy is the one that provides the greatest amount of goods and services at the lowest prices. Only bankers and bureaucrats fight against deflation, because their livelihoods (and positions of power) depend upon inflated asset values and steady nominal tax revenues. Put these two groups together at the nexus of the financial system (the Central Bank), and you have the recipe for excessive leverage, crony capitalism and perpetual stagnation.

        • nick kelly
          May 11, 2016 at 10:54 am

          Some bankers will be surprised to hear that they want deflation, making the assets they have lent against worth less.
          Deflation in real estate and now energy assets has ended many banking careers and a few banks.

        • nick kelly
          May 11, 2016 at 11:01 am

          Sorry- misunderstood you- yes bankers don’t want deflation, but I don’t think too many ordinary folks on main street were happy with the 1930’s deflation.
          Bureaucrats did well in the Depression- if they kept their jobs.
          In Canada the standard of living of a Federal civil servant rose despite two 5 % wage cuts.

      • prepalaw
        May 11, 2016 at 8:39 pm


        I cultivate perennial gardens and have beautiful large white peonies.

        Your references sparked me to research. I like flowers with strong colors. Not washed out.

        Because of your writing, I found this peony:

        This flower is small – but the color is amazing. Will track it down in get it bare root for fall planting.

        • MC
          May 12, 2016 at 11:16 am

          If you like strong colors, look up Garden Treasure. Like most Itoh’s it’s a “lazy” bloomer, meaning it may require two years from transplant to start blooming, but when it starts, it starts.
          Large intense yellow flowers which are surprisngly resilient to weather and long lasting as well.
          Another couple peonies I may suggest are Shima Daijin and Qi Hua Lu Shuang.
          Shima Daijin (Minister of the Islands) is a Botan (Japanese arbustive peony) with enormous purple flowers. Like most Botan it starts blooming right away (first year) and can develop into a proper bush bearing a large number of flowers.
          Qi Hua Lu Shuang (Exotic Flower Kissed by Frost) is an old Chinese herbaceous and another “lazy” bloomer. It has two colored purple/white flowers. Given it’s pretty much a heirloom cultivar, everybody can propagate it and hence it’s often sold with names more appealing to Western ears and double the price!

        • prepalaw
          May 12, 2016 at 11:22 am

          Thank you

  9. night-train
    May 11, 2016 at 2:50 am

    I was thinking about taking out a loan for some home renovations. I guess now using my paint-by-number collection isn’t going to cut it as collateral. Maybe my Velvet Elvis portrait will catch their fancy.

  10. roddy6667
    May 11, 2016 at 4:54 am

    The art market, along with Park Avenue penthouses, skyscrapers and multi-million collectible cars, are the canaries in the coal mine. They mark the peak of a bubble. When they start to back off, we should be like J.P.Morgan when he got a stock tip from a shoeshine boy. He got entirely out of the market before the 1929 crash and did quite well.

      May 11, 2016 at 9:46 am

      I believe it was Joseph Kennedy who got the shoeshine boy “tip”.

      J.P.Morgan was actually one of the “boys” behind the intentional collapse of the Market.

      Also, I own 3 original Ikki Matsumoto paintings. As well as 11, #1 A/P (#1, Artist Proof) of his limited edition prints. Any buyers?

        May 11, 2016 at 11:07 am

        I made a mistake. J.P. Morgan was not involved in the 1929 collapse since he was DEAD by then. He was involved in the 1907 “Panic” when he bad-mouthed the Knickerbocker Trust company and started the Panic.

        The reason for the Panic was to scare the people into establishing a Central Bank (Private) of course, which was put together by Paul Warburg in a private meeting off the coast of Georgia.

        • nick kelly
          May 11, 2016 at 7:23 pm

          Remember that Morgan’s son inherited the position- so confusion is easy. In the week of the 1929 crash Morgan Junior lead the banking syndicate that tried to stabilize the market by a big and very public stock purchase. His father had done this successfully in an earlier panic (07?) but in 29 it didn’t work.
          It didn’t help that CEO banker Wiggin was operating a short scheme while publicly a buyer.

    • OutLookingIn
      May 11, 2016 at 10:02 am

      That was NOT J.P. Morgan –

      The quote you refer to (stocks and shoe shine boy) is attributed to;
      Joseph P. Kennedy Snr.

      • roddy6667
        May 11, 2016 at 1:36 pm

        Wikipedia says different, and claims that both stories may be just that, stories.

  11. roddy6667
    May 11, 2016 at 4:57 am

    I should add rich Chinese buying mansions in Vancouver as another market of a bubble peak.

  12. seamus o'bannion
    May 11, 2016 at 6:09 am

    One has to feel sorry, though, for the mega-rich class of exploiters, they have to run faster and faster to get away from the mega-inflation that plagues their class – there’s just so much money floating around up there! … And now their brilliant investments in art are going bust. Geez, I gotta weep. Here I go, buying a whole buncha new hankies again!

    • Randy Durd
      May 11, 2016 at 9:38 am

      Class envy. They, Bernanke and Yellen all worked hard for that money.

  13. Randy Durd
    May 11, 2016 at 9:36 am

    Recently, my Picasso was stolen out of my 2003 Isuzu Rodeo (I guess I left the door unlocked). The insurance company told me it wasn’t worth the paper it was printed on. THAT should give you an idea where this is all headed.

      May 11, 2016 at 10:06 am

      Small Picasso etchings make great place mats on your kitchen table.

    • nick kelly
      May 11, 2016 at 7:39 pm

      If you have a valuable work of art it needs separate insurance or at least needs to have its value disclosed BEFORE the robbery.
      Trivia: A certain DR.Cooperman loaned a work of art to a prestigious museum- it may have been worth 100K but on the loan document he put a value much larger- several million.
      So did he have the museum burgled? No. But he now had its recognized seal on the value.
      So he burgled himself.
      The insurance co fought in court saying it was overvalued.
      They lost and not only did Cooperman get his money he got damages and I think costs- the court said you can’t write a policy and then decide you shouldn’t have.
      Happy ending?
      Foolishly Cooperman kept the ‘burgled’ painting. Why? It could only surface at his peril. Maybe to look at privately.
      Anyway ‘a woman is to blame’ A jealous lady ratted him out and the painting was found. To make things worse- it was his lawyer’s girl friend.

      Since that time- some companies take a closer look at art insurance.
      The problem is that a work is unique- the company can’t replace it to settle the claim.

  14. d'Cynic
    May 11, 2016 at 11:19 am

    I did not know Andre Derain so I looked it up: a not too good copycat of van Gogh. Deserved to flop.
    But then again, it’s not about the quality of the art, but for how much the rich can flip it.
    Thanks for the info.

    May 11, 2016 at 1:20 pm

    One of the things I like best about the “Internet” is that within seconds one can know the real facts. If you have a question, somebody will have the answer. If you err, others can point you in the right direction.

    It is going to be soooo difficult for “them” to keep on lying to us when we have this internet system to get the truth.

    This is why “they” have to shut down the internet.

    • d
      May 11, 2016 at 2:39 pm

      With so many on the net blaming banksters and the American empire for all evil thy have nothing to worry about.

      The important facts get buried in the BS noise.

      Another naked Kardashian picture will keep them amused till they find another fairy story to sensationalize hysterically is the proven model.

    • nick kelly
      May 11, 2016 at 7:50 pm

      Some tragedies have been aided by internet guff- the anti-measles vaccination for one, which so far has lead to about 300 deaths.
      For sure the truth is out there- but the source is key .
      You can read a whole bunch of stuff about how the moon landings were faked, how condensation trails are chemicals being sprayed by the Illuminati etc. etc. Paranoia, sometimes near clinical, is common.
      Wicky is generally pretty good.
      Maybe think gold mining- tons of gravel per ounce.

      • Bigfoot
        May 12, 2016 at 12:28 am

        I have watched the spraying of chemtrails for 20 years here in Fl. and actually caught it in progress more than once (spray being released then shut off while in sight). It’s rare to have a single week that our skies are not being sprayed with something. I have seen mornings where the entire sky (back when in Orlando) was a huge grid checkerboard of sprayed clouds that slowly dissipated to form a still visible haze several hours later. Having lived in Otown for 45 years & 1 spot for 20 years, the patterns were not normal flight paths but instead east/west & north/south grids.

        The history of weather modification & aerial spraying is quite extensive & well documented. Many are suggesting the use of these aerial spraying technologies to combat global warming. Bill Gates has awarded millions in grants towards this endeavour. Nanotechnology has been incorporated in recent years to aerial spraying as well as all kinds of consumer products. Like all the genetic engineering associated with our food supply, the use of these nanotechnologies & whatever else is being sprayed over us regularly should be of concern to everyone. Weather modification (aerial spraying & energizing the ionosphere) has been used for decades & is something the military has sought to weaponize for a long time as well. Some of the spraying has also been associated with HAARP. HAARP was even featured in Popular Science back in the mid 90’s.

        I could easily link 20 science based articles from scientist & science related organizations regarding this subject. These people are not the lunatic fringe & not one of them has anything to do with some Illiminati conspiracy. There is a man here in town that has these Morgellons symptoms & it’s the craziest thing I have ever scene. It is just as shown in the many pictures on the web. Yes, he was told he was crazy even though these fibers are literally growing out of his skin & itch like mad.

        Everything I have mentioned is not paranoia & it’s a shame you have chosen to label it as so. You have seemingly no real knowledge on this subject. I would suggest searching the current applications & dangers of nanotechnology in aerial disbursement, agricultural, & consumer based products & then read the mountain of scientific evidence supporting the need for real concern & oversight. The world is being frankenstined right in front of all of us & as usual, the herd is purposely kept in the dark.

        • d
          May 12, 2016 at 2:40 am

          Or are they dumping fuel.

          Now days a lot of them are made to fly round in circles until they use it up.

          At what altitude is this occurring.

        • Bigfoot
          May 12, 2016 at 11:04 am

          d- 100% not dumping fuel. As far as altitude, anything I say would be an educated guess.
          Yes, sometimes given the right condition a contrail (condensation) can freeze & remain visible longer than usual rather than the usual rapid dissipation that occurs.

          Because someone claims the Illuminati are spraying us is not a valid reason or argument to presume there is no spraying going on when there is so much evidence to the contrary. I could go on posting links to all aspects of this topic but I won’t. People are generally too lazy to investigate things on their own & generally rely on one or two articles they have read to support their beliefs. I’m certainly not going to change that. When I initially researched this topic, I had an open mind & no idea what conclusion I might come to.
          Spending literally years outside, I have watched these things unfolding. Very few people give more than a passing glance to the environment that surrounds them & few have actually taken the time to monitor their sky for hours at a time. When you study the scientific applications of aerial based nanotechnology (& non aerial based) you begin to realize we are playing with technologies that we have no idea what the long term implications for our health & our environment might be. IMO, it is not a subject to dismiss & categorize as delusional paranoid ramblings, although there is not a shortage of that out there regarding anything. I would just urge anyone with questions to do their own research.

        • d
          May 13, 2016 at 6:53 am

          I asked about altitude as I was also thinking fertilizer, seeding insect/pest control, which we do a lot of Ariel.

          We also do inadvertent Ariel seeding quiet well.

          Police confiscated several helicopter nets full of mature Cannabis.

          The flew it a Medium/low altitude, 70 miles, to the disposal point over farms and native bush/scrub-land.

          Now it as a wild Noxious weed in that area, just go out annually, and harvest it.


        • Bigfoot
          May 13, 2016 at 8:19 am

          No, it’s mostly high altitude applications. If you have time, check out the vid with Bob Livingston at the bottom of the operation popeye link above. It’s interesting stuff. “They” have been mucking with the weather for decades.

          Here’s another link that provides a lot of useful trails to follow for those that believe that so called chemtrails are the product of delusional paranoids. That nonsense will be shot down quickly. It’s a fairly short summary.

          It is legal in the US to experiment on the public without their consent or knowledge. Many people have no clue. There are known instances of biological experimentation using the public as guinea pigs going back to at least the 1950’s.
          A company or the government can conduct aerial spraying of pesticides & other unknown substances without having to prove they are “safe”. To challenge, you must prove they are not safe, so it is extremely difficult for the common man to seek legal recourse.

          SNAFU- yes

  16. Curious Cat
    May 11, 2016 at 1:43 pm

    At one time I also aspired to be an artist but after all these years I can’t help wondering if Calvin (Calvin and Hobbs) wasn’t on to something.

    “But really, art is a private language for sophisticates to congratulate themselves on their superiority to the rest of the world.”

  17. Julian the Apostate
    May 11, 2016 at 5:00 pm

    The artist gene skipped over me, though I truly enjoy some of it. I have an old lithograph of Stone City by Grant Wood that I enjoy. I like Edward Hopper’s art, and oddly enough much of Salvador Dali’s work. I’m afraid if I was wealthy I wouldn’t by art to show off, but rather to please myself.

    • night-train
      May 13, 2016 at 3:18 am

      Julian: Edward Hopper’s art spoke to me the first time I saw it. Still does. I have half an artist gene. I have some accomplishment with a camera, but I would love to draw or paint. But I just don’t have it. I sure can’t invest in the high dollar art market, but I do enjoy having prints of some of my favorite works. And as an econ professor once taught me, utility is a form of compensation. So, while my art prints won’t appreciate, I am never-the-less compensated through enjoyment.


  18. May 11, 2016 at 11:41 pm

    I hate when a quote I have made in another outlet is taken out of context by someone trying to prove some point that they’re jamming down your throat. My quote “…As far as I am concerned, this is a catastrophe…” is specifically about the one Impressionist/Modern Evening sale at Sotheby’s, insofar as that it sold only 66% by number of lots and total dollar value – and this was because the sale was poorly organized and implemented. I neither said, nor inferred, that the ENTIRE Art market was a ‘catastrophe’. So get you shit straight, and don’t take my quotes out of context. Thank you, Todd Levin

    • May 12, 2016 at 12:16 am

      The quote is used PRECISELY in the EXACT SAME context that you specified. Read the article down to where the quote is, and you will see it.

      It says this, and I quote from my own article to make it easier for you since you can’t read entire articles:

      >>>Of the 61 lots, 21 went unsold. So only 66% of the offered pieces turned into deals.
      >>>“As far as I am concerned, this is a catastrophe,” Todd Levin,…


      “I hate” – to use your elegant and artsy phrase – when people mouth off about something in an article without having read the article!

      And titles and subtitles are ALWAYS out of context by definition.

      It’s amazing how you publicly just made a fool of yourself (and we all love your elegant artsy language). So OK, you commented at night, and maybe you had a few cold ones too many. Happens. So good luck.

    • Petunia
      May 12, 2016 at 10:26 am


      I understood your quote in the context you expressed it. However, any person who has followed the economics of the art world knows, that the Impressionist/Modern sales are the art market’s leading indicator. So don’t get your undies in a twist, we get it, wink wink.

  19. Todd Levin
    May 12, 2016 at 12:43 pm

    Petunia: One point of fact – the Impressionist/Modern sales have not been the art market’s leading indicator for many, many moons. The honor of ‘leading indicator’ has been the Post-War/Contemporary auction sales since at least 2000. Wink, wink.

    • Petunia
      May 12, 2016 at 4:25 pm

      I will respectfully disagree, even though my personal favorites are mostly in that category. The really big sales are always in the most well known pieces from the Impressionist Era forward because the really big money doesn’t want to make a foolish mistake. This is especially the case with the new foreign money.

    • nick kelly
      May 22, 2016 at 10:12 pm

      There aren’t enough good Impressionist works available to create the churn the market needs. Many are now in museums. You would need a billion dollars to stock an Impressionist gallery of second and third tier works. Since this is impossible, a next ‘new thing’ has to be discovered/invented for the biz to survive.
      No post war/contemporary works have approached the individual prices of the former- for fairly obvious reasons. Much of it is crap.

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