Art critics and critics of the art world erupted in howls of indignation after Francis Bacon’s Three Studies of Lucian Freud sold for a record $142m. Some compared the figure to the National Endowment for the Arts budget and found the Federal program wanting. Others complained about all of the children who could be saved with the money as if the transfer of funds from one person’s bank account to another’s destroyed the cash (and seemingly the work of art along with it.)
Dismantling this knee-jerk reaction would take volumes. Good thing the Wall Street Journal found a much more elegant way to change the perspective on the price of art. They ran a chart comparing top auction sales from this past week with baseball player salaries. The coup is to also note the number of years the contracts cover whereas the art remains long after the price has been paid.