Two extraordinary stories from the world of culture today highlight how much money can be made from nothing.
A life size Alberto Giocametti was sold by Sotheby’s for a world record price of just over £65 million. L’Homme Qui Marche I was estimated at about £12 million but furious bidding pushed the price to the record level after just 8 minutes.
Meanwhile rapper Jay-Z (Shawn Carter) is suing Highland Capital Management over their handling of a $52 million loan for a hotel development in Manhattan. More from Wall Street Journal.
Some rappers have long been recognised, quite rightly, as some of the most successful entrepreneurs on the planet but £65 million for a sculpture made out of bronze really made me think about how you can create value from nothing.
Melanie Clore from Sotheby’s said, “We are thrilled to have sold these great works this evening and that they have been recognised for the masterpieces that they are.
“The competition which generated these exceptional results demonstrates the continued quest for quality that compels today’s collectors.”
Both stories rather destroy the popular notion of artists struggling in their garrets, suffering for their art, to buy enough paint to complete their magnum opus. These are clearly exceptions although it is not impossible to imagine some of the Young British Artists sitting together in the St Martin’s Lane Hotel talking like this:
Every entrepreneur sets out on a process of creating value from nothing. Art seems to epitomise the process in a very interesting way. Rory Sutherland’s talk at TED Global in Oxford last year gives the best explanation I have seen of how it is done. I was lucky enough to see it live. Funny and profound. Well worth a watch, especially if you have ever wondered whether intangible value, intellectual property, brands and trademarks are really adding true value to a product or service.
On another track, £65 million is the sort of exit that most European VCs would kill for these days – can you imagine the pitch…?