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Notes & Comments

January 2009

The art market bubble

On the folly of speculating on contemporary art.

What’s the silliest thing you have heard in the past year or two? Take your time. Our candidate comes from Tobias Meyer, Sotheby’s head of contemporary art, who declared in 2007 that “the best art is the most expensive because the market is so smart.”

Now, we are great admirers of the wisdom of the market. But would even the most doctrinaire free-marketeer—one, anyway, not dazzled by the glitter of the contemporary art world—argue that market price determined aesthetic value? The philosopher David Hume famously argued that “durable appreciation,” not any intrinsic quality, ultimately provided the measure of artistic value. Whether Hume was correct is a matter of dispute. But at least he placed the locus of value in long-term public judgment and delectation, not sticker price.

We came across that quotation from Mr. Meyer in “A Second Tulip Mania,” an artic ...

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This article originally appeared in The New Criterion, Volume 27 January 2009, on page 2

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The Walter Duranty Prize for Journalistic Mendacity
On May 5, 2014, The New Criterion and PJ Media presented the second Walter Duranty Prize for Journalistic Mendacity. The award is given to highlight egregious examples of dishonest reporting. Also awarded this year was the Rather, a new award for lifetime achievement in mendacious journalism.
The Duranty Prize is named after Walter Duranty, the New York Times Moscow corresponded in the 1920s and 1930s who whitewashed Joseph Stalin’s forced starvation of the Ukrainians (the Holodomor) and many other aspects of Soviet oppression. Duranty was awarded the Pulitzer Prize in 1932 for his efforts. It has never been revoked.
Audio copyright Ed Driscoll,

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