Saturday, September 30, 2023

Duchamp: Still Playing With the Art Market

Speaking of Duchamp’s readymade, a few Art & Law residents mentioned this to me last night:

Collectors of contemporary art are comfortable acquiring individual works in series, but they don’t relish unlimited editions or dodgy authorship. Some may be dismayed to learn that there are at least three more “Duchamp urinals”. Gio di Maggio, a collector whose Fondazione Mudima is in Milan, and Luisella Zignone, a Duchamp collector based in Biella, both have “Fountains” that Mr Schwarz says he gave as gifts. Sergio Casoli, a Milan dealer, is also thought to own one.

According to The Economist:

The artist’s estate is not pleased. …Some Duchamp connoisseurs are outraged. …Others appear more ambivalent.

Sure enough, if you guessed that this was Duchamp’s strategy, you may be right.

One wonders whether the Dada master, who challenged the notion of the authentic artwork, might not be amused by the way these questionable “Fountains” muddy the waters of his current market. “My production,” he once said, “has no right to be speculated upon.”


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  • steven cochran

    Off the top of my head, I believe the top price ever paid for a ‘Duchamp’ was from the 1998 Sotheby’s auction, where 2 million was paid for a 1964 Arturo Schwarz edition Fountain. I believe that in 2000, another one went for 1.5 million. No doubt, he would be pleased to see his prices dropping significantly at a time when the market was trending upwards. For the most influential artist in 100 years to never break the 10 million mark in any art auction is no small feat, in itself. : ) limited production, and unfettered rights to reproduction is the way to go!

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