It’s understandable that the price paid for the Eileen Gray “Dragon Chair” would provoke dismay and even anger. It’s surprising to see that commentary come from a financial news site like Bloomberg. Nonetheless, we were struck by some of the tortured reasoning behind the anger. Here Mark Beech fulminates against the purchase:
For billionaires, art dealers and some of Vallois’s clients, $28 million may be small change. But for many of us, just think what you can do with that. Maybe buy a private island, a Learjet and have enough change left over for Michelin three-star meals for life. Or if you are feeling philanthropic, there are plenty of charities groaning under the weight of the credit crisis who would find this a nice sum to tide them over until better days.
Leaving aside the hospitals that could be built [emphasis added] or theaters that could be saved, you could fill your shopping cart with a Hirst and a Rembrandt engraving; or a small Henry Moore and a medieval manuscript.
I guess Mr. Beech has forgotten that the proceeds of the sale–including the $28 million for the chair–will go to a foundation that supports AIDS research. So, instead of thinking of the sale as a waste of money, he should think of it as M. Bergé inducing many people to “build a hospital” by offering them one of his shiny objects in return. That might make him feel better. Though it may not make it any less amazing that someone spent $28 million on a Dragon Chair.