The $12 Million Stuffed Shark delves into the economics and psychology of the contemporary art world - artists, dealers, auction houses, and wealthy collectors. If it's true - as so often said - that 85 percent of new contemporary art is bad, why were record prices achieved at auction for works by 131 contemporary artists in 2006 alone, with astonishing new heights reached in 2007? The $12 Million Stuffed Shark explores money, lust, and the self-aggrandizement of possession in an attempt to determine what makes a particular work of art valuable while others are ignored.
In the style of the bestselling Freakonomics , Thompson uses economic concepts to explain the unique practices employed, to great success, in the international contemporary art market. He discusses branding and marketing and how various strategies are tailored to a wealthy clientele, driving a "must-have" culture. Drawing on exclusive interviews with both past and present executives of auction houses and art dealerships, artists, and the buyers who move the market, Thompson launches the reader on a surprising journey of discovery.