‘The art market is more moral than the stock market’


Art, General Culture

“With Wall Street in self-inflicted ruin it might seem ridiculous to argue that the art market is less ethical than the stock market. Yet that was the position taken last month by art dealers Richard Feigen, Michael Hue-Williams and collector Adam Lindemann in a debate […] They faced artist Chuck Close, critic Jerry Saltz, and auctioneer Amy Cappellazzo, who defended the integrity of the salesroom and the art world in general. This pro-art market team was trounced. […] Here is one losing debater’s perspective on the defeat.” (story)

To me, the amusing bit is that the dealers and collector argued that the art market is less ethical than the stock market - I would have suspected it the other way around. But reading Mr Saltz’ writing makes it clear why that is: Both sides seem to be talking about different things. For example, when Mr Saltz writes that “No one in the art world jumped out of a window because a painting’s price decreased” then that might be technically true. But “ethical” is not defined via whether or not people kill themselves, but, instead, what is considered to be ethical behaviour by a large group of people (where, it is important to note and for reasons that are quite obvious, the group of people better include people outside of the market in questions).

Whether or not the art market really is more or less ethical than the stock market I personally can’t tell.

Update (24 Feb 2009): You can access the actual debate here (thanks, Jordan!)