The $12 Million Stuffed Shark: The Curious Economics of Contemporary Art

Front Cover
Macmillan, Sep 16, 2008 - Art - 268 pages
20 Reviews

Why would a smart New York investment banker pay $12 million for the decaying, stuffed carcass of a shark? By what alchemy does Jackson Pollock’s drip painting No. 5, 1948 sell for $140 million?

            Intriguing and entertaining, The $12 Million Stuffed Shark is a Freakonomics approach to the economics and psychology of the contemporary art world. Why were record prices achieved at auction for works by 131 contemporary artists in 2006 alone, with astonishing new heights reached in 2007? Don Thompson explores the money, lust, and self-aggrandizement of the art world in an attempt to determine what makes a particular work valuable while others are ignored.

            This book is the first to look at the economics and the marketing strategies that enable the modern art market to generate such astronomical prices. Drawing on  interviews with both past and present executives of auction houses and art dealerships, artists, and the buyers who move the market, Thompson launches the reader on a journey of discovery through the peculiar world of modern art. Surprising, passionate, gossipy, revelatory, The $12 Million Stuffed Shark reveals a great deal that even experienced  auction purchasers do not know.


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Review: The $12 Million Stuffed Shark: The Curious Economics of Contemporary Art

User Review  - Ilya Kavalerov - Goodreads

The aim of this book is to answer two related questions: What makes the work of an artist valuable, and why is anyone willing to pay top dollar for usually un-extraordinary and occasionally unlikable ... Read full review

Review: The $12 Million Stuffed Shark: The Curious Economics of Contemporary Art

User Review  - Alexander Stanuga - Goodreads

An insightful read on the economics particularly of the top end of the the Art World. Written over the past few years, the author highlights the role of Auction Houses, (particularly Christies and ... Read full review


The 12 Million Stuffed Shark
Branding and Insecurity
Damien Hirst and the Shark
Choosing an Auction Hammer 103
Art and Money 177
Art Critics
Contemporary Art as an Investment
Art Websites I

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About the author (2008)

Don Thompson teaches marketing and economics in the MBA program at the Schulich School of Business at York University in Toronto. He has  taught at the London School of Economics and at Harvard Business School. He lives in London and Toronto.

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