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$ 6.5 million for a photo ?! pull the other one !!

In my blog post of 12 September, I had a bit of a rant against a certain brand of inflated and vacuous "fine-art photography" after exiting a one-man show at a photo gallery in Miami.

So happens the photographer in question was a certain Peter Lik, who made the headlines on December 10-12 or thereabouts for having allegedly sold the world's most expensive photograph for $ 6.5 million.

You can check out a 11 December news posting on the DPReview site ( that includes links, among others to an article published in the Guardian newspaper on 10 December - where the consensus seems to be a) no way is this photo worth $ 6.5 million and b) the purported sale (to an "anonymous buyer") most probably never happened. Just as the other sales meant to place out 4 of Lik's photos in the 20 most expensive photos of all time.

I googled Lik just for the hell of it and found out his gallery is in Vegas - sweetly ironic that Vegas and Miami, among the world's capitals of bling and make-believe, should apparently be the main playgrounds of an illusionist like Lik.

Anyhow, thinking back to my posts about the price of art, it occurred to me: what if some fool, partly on the assumption that someone had really just paid $ 6.5 million for that photo, bought it on for, say, $ 5, 6 or 7 million - and what if that fool then found out that this purported world record was in fact a fake transaction and a marketing stunt ? Would that same fool be justified in cancelling his purchase or seeking partial reimbursement ?

My uncharitable instinct would be to say no way: that person would just have been too much of a blistering cretin to deserve any protection. Serves him right.

My second argument would be that to accord that foolish buyer protection would imply giving previous prices paid disproportionate and undue weight in the formation of a photo's (or any other art work's) price - something that I personally don't have much sympathy for and that I believe corrupts art.

On the other hand, more realistically, it's probably a safe bet that a court of law would find in favour of the foolish buyer, and wouldn't feel much sympathy for Lik or a similar illusionist-marketeer.

Still, this potently reminds one ot that story about the emperor's new clothes...


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