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Schurian, Andrea

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Der Standard - Austria | 13/05/2015

Obscene auction prices for the commodity art

Picasso's painting Women of Algiers sold for over 160 million euros at a New York auction on Monday evening - the largest sum ever paid for a painting at auction. Art is becoming an increasingly popular investment among the rich of this world, the left-liberal daily Der Standard observes: "Officially the identity and creditworthiness of the bidders are checked. Yet one can't avoid the suspicion that dirty money is being laundered clean at such auctions. The procedure sounds a bit like a conspiracy theory: buyer and seller get together and strike a deal, ahead of the auction the seller secretly passes his illicit earnings on to the buyer, which are later declared as auction proceeds. Looking for something new? The joy of discovery? Not anymore. Now it's all about prestige. Those who have enough money don't shop around for luxury yachts or private islands anymore - or not just for those things - but increasingly for art as a commodity. And that commodity is no longer defined in terms of social values but solely in terms of its market value. Museums can bid against such obscene auction prices."

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