i do love a donnybrook between pretentious, tasteless assholes of the sort who dictate the pecking order at the idiot upper end of the artworld.
The legal complaints center on the worth of an unfinished Jeff Koons sculpture, “Popeye,” that Mr. Perelman bought from Mr. Gagosian for $4 million, as well as the value of eight other works that Mr. Perelman used as partial payment for a $10.5 million Cy Twomblypainting and a $12.6 million Richard Serra sculpture he bought from the dealer.
now, i propose that an unfinished sculpture by jeff koons has no value other than what people like larry gagosian pluck out of thin air. how did he pluck it out of thin air? he figured out what you just might pay, so it's too late now to whine because you paid it. the idea that a judge is going to be able to determine what such a thing is really worth presupposes that there is some sort of answer to that question. my view is that it is worth what its component materials are worth, and if called i will testify to that effect. no one can buy something like that because they actually want to look at it or live with it or think about it, right? volcanic tempers and diva egomania are one thing; tastes that are at once bad, pretentious, insincere, and backed by infinite cash are another. how do you persuade yourself that that is a good use of anyone's money? the whole idea of art collecting in this vein is extreme self-deception: i like it. i see what it means. it's deep. it's important. i want to be taken to understand. that's why i buy unfinished popeyes at the price of diamonds. perelman is trying to establish that he's not extremely gauche and tasteless, which is certainly one of the most conspicuous features of...people like himself. but his only way to establish his transcendence is to measure it in dollars: that is, all he knows how to do is crank the gaucherie to excruciating levels.
anyway, if the new york/international art market collapsed utterly, to the point where you couldn't give your twombly scribbles away, the whole culture would be better off.
myself, i'd replace art with craft and suggest that people like perelman do something non-meaningless with their millions. i'm more interested in the iowa or gabon artworld than the new york artworld. or: the original popeye cartoons are art. ok roy lichtenstein's appropriations of such things are art. jeff koons' appropriatons of pop art's appropriations of cartoons are at best momentarily amusing old jokes. they might be sort of funny, or rather they might remind you that lichtenstein really was funny, but that's the best one can say. i'll say to all of us what i said the perelman: if we let people like larry gagosian tell us what art is or why it is important or whether it's good or not, we deserve the art we get and the price we pay.
or here's some more advice while i'm fixing art. don't pretend. if you really like it and understand it, say you do no matter what the status or supposed valuation of it is. if you don't like it or understand it, say you don't like it or understand it. now, you can definitely learn to like and understand something, and you know there might be reasons in some particular case why you should try. but just start with this: i'm as trustworthy on this as anyone else, and at any rate i sort of have to listen to myself or i will be surrounded by things i hate. really, just say it: endorse yourself. nothing goes wrong if you have your own bad taste, but you're just torturing yourself and all of us if you try to have larry gagosian's bad taste. and even larry gagosian can't give you what you want if you don't know what you want, or are just pretending.