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

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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…



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