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Of art and money, Bitcoins and Damien Hirst

By Glenn Stehle

Money and art, in the minds of some, are now one and the same.

Izabella Kaminska, for example, recently asserted that art is “the sophisticated man’s Bitcoin.” It is the “safe store-of-value” which “art aspires to that is our intended meaning,” she avers.  “Think sophisticated man’s Bitcoin rather than asset class outright.”

Kaminska goes on to elaborate that much art

is being ‘mined’ purely to satisfy the demand for ‘safe-ish’ assets in a liquidity saturated world. Safe assets, which we should add, are often held in bonded warehouses in places like Geneva, outside of the reach of tax authorities, and which later become a type of bearer security in their own right as the depository receipts which allow redemption of the assets begin to circle amongst the wealthy as their own type of non-taxable currency.

Much of the value of art, according to Kaminska, is just like that of Bitcoins.  It depends on the “the Emperor’s New Clothes effect.  “If we  —  art dealers, collectors, writers and experts – all agree a particular work has value,” she asserts, “it surely does, irrespective of its costs of production, utility and purpose.”

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