Why is art so expensive?

(blog about art)

$ 450,000,000 – this was how much Leonardo da Vinci’s painting ‘Salvator Mundi’ was bought. Now it remains the most expensive canvas sold in the world. When you hear such numbers, you immediately think, “Why is it so expensive?” What does the price of a work of art actually depend on?

A person can either enjoy art or make money on it. Therefore, the art market plays by its own rules. The cost is always calculated from two factors: the appearance (beauty and size) and the events that are associated with the work of art. Popularity, fashion for a particular author at the time of sale and a special style of the canvas also play a role. As soon as the artist removes the canvas from the easel, his story begins. The canvas can be sold (and more than once), inherited, donated, damaged, stolen, copied … All these manipulations especially affect the margin.

For example, one of the most expensive paintings in existence today is Rembrandt’s ‘Danaë.’ It was painted during the golden age of Dutch painting and was never sold. The estimated cost is more than half a billion dollars. First of all, the bitter fate of the first rich but poor author who died as a poor person added to the price. Then the picture disappeared from the sight for more than a hundred years, and was found in the collection of Empress Catherine II. And even after her death, when the new government began to sell canvases from the country’s main art gallery to pay for revolutionary debts, ‘Danaë’ remained untouched. But the most cruel incident that added value to this canvas happened in 1985: a man entered the Hermitage, asked the employees where the most expensive painting was, approached it, took out a knife and ripped the canvas, and then doused everything with sulfuric acid. The restoration took 12 years.

Repin’s paintings were also cut, stones were thrown at the Mona Lisa, acid was poured over other works by Rembrandt. As you can see, acts of vandalism greatly increase the cost of paintings.

The author’s personal tragedy is another reason to overcharge. For example, Van Gogh’s sunflowers. He loved them and painted often. And then one day, when the artist was finishing a painting for the living room, he quarreled with Paul Gauguin and cut off part of his ear. This is the first version. Another says that Gauguin, who was an avid swordsman, accidentally cut off a piece of his friend’s ear. That is why those same sunflowers have risen noticeably in price. But it is worth noting that during his lifetime, Van Gogh sold only one of his works. This suggests that often the history of the painting or the author plays a role after the death of the artist.

Sometimes the canvas is very difficult to estimate even approximately. After all, at an auction, its price can rise significantly. For example, Russian billionaire Dmitry Rybolovlev bought Leonardo da Vinci’s “Salvator Mundi ” for $ 127 million, and later sold it for $ 450. At the same time, the initial price was announced at 100 million, after which it increased only because two people were fighting for the opportunity to buy it. In addition, the fact that only 20 pictures of Leonardo da Vinci’s survived and play a serious role.

Roughly speaking, often works of art cost exactly what the potential owner wants to pay for them.

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