The Financial Times sits down to lunch with Jake and Dinos Chapman to get their take on how the art market works:
“We’re not exactly in that part of the pool,” Dinos says drily. “We’re in the bit you put your feet into to get the germs off.”
He and Jake don’t do badly, though. Recently they were provided with a 17th-century crucifixion scene by a follower of Pieter Brueghel the Younger, which they altered by turning the spectators in the painting into ghoulish monsters. The painting was then placed in an installation in front of a sexually aroused mannequin in a Ku Klux Klan hood and called “Oi Pieter, I k-k-kan see your house from here”. […]
The original painting cost $310,000; after Dinos’s intervention it went for much more. “I don’t know,” Dinos says. The exact figure was $1.2m. Jake: “Worth every penny.”
Do they have feel any responsibility for who buys their art? “We can’t have any responsibility for that. We don’t make it for that purpose,” Dinos says.
The “Brueghel” painting was sourced for them by a private Moscow gallery that mainly caters for wealthy Russians. “It was an offer we couldn’t refuse,” Jake says. Financial? “Everything’s financial,” Dinos replies. […]
Jake picks up: […] “The point is that the collectors, these are people who have made their money by hanging on to money. They’re not the kind of people who just say, ‘Of course I’ll pay 50 grand for that.’ No, these are people who know the intrinsic value of everything they see. So when they see that” – holding up the crumpled paper ball – “what they’ve done is recognise that this has some kind of symbolic acceleration to high value. They can see the trick.”
He speaks like a spectator, not a participant. “The best thing I can do is place us as what we are, kind of collaborators,” he says. In the Vichyist sense? “Absolutely. We’re implicated, of course we are. It’d be crazy to think that at the best level some things escape the misery of our prostitution, but it’s not really much that does.”