According to Artprice.com’s 2006 annual report, in that year alone the price of paintings shot up by 27 percent in the United States. The fortunes that the world’s elite was willing to pay for a painting climbed faster in the five years between 2001 and 2006 that in the previous twenty-five. A handful of investment firms were now selling fine art as a portfolio. Art had exploded into a trillion-dollar global business. The market hadn’t seen days like this since its winning streak in the 1980s. William Ruprecht, president and chief executive offer of Sotheby’s, said, “The reason people say this is different from the last boom is that in the 1980s, the market was driven by Japanese real-estate wealth. When that fell apart, the art market fell apart. Now we have Russian wealth, Chinese wealth, Japanese wealth, hedge fund wealth, entrepreneurial wealth, real-estate wealth. There is a huge concentration of wealth at the top of the economic pyramid, a bigger concentration than anyone has experience before.”
(excerpt from Hot Art by Joshua Knelman, 2011)
Thrilling art-crime novel… a sensationalist endeavor? You be the judge.