Friday 8 April 2016

A for Art = M for Money

Picasso's "Women of Algiers" now belongs to an undeclared buyer who paid $160m, setting a new record for the most expensive artwork sold at auction. How did this happen? One man, let's call him L, places an art work on the market at £X million. One of L's offshore companies, let's call it S, bids at auction for what is his own picture at an auction house, let's call it C. By the way, L is a major shareholder of C. The bid is successful. In fact if S has to pay more than £X million all the better. The art market sale prices have been super-hyped as a result. L then sells pictures from his collection to third-party buyers at astronomical prices which he has been responsible for setting up. Bingo. Well not really B for Bingo and H for 'house-housey' but more O for obscene. Read about my 'brush' - excuse the pun - with art crimes in this sample chapter from 'Left Field'.

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