Horror at a New York Art Gallery

Lolling about in the upmarket precincts of New York’s SoHo district recently, we chanced upon a ghastly scene…

A young, voguish couple in an art gallery… at close quarters with a square of canvas on the wall.

On that canvas was a carnage of what we assumed to be paint.

We suspected at once that a gorilla had broken loose from the Bronx Zoo… stumbled onto the gallery by way of the 5 train… and set to work with a violent abandon.

In respect of decorum and all things holy… we describe this work of “art” no further.

But to proceed…

A tall, slim man in a dark suit stands off to one side of the gallery, studiously indifferent to our young voguish couple… as if the couple’s presence was merely so much in the day’s work.

Yet he fixes them with furtive glances every 30 seconds or so. No. Maybe 20.

This fellow completes the characters of our scene…

Are these two actually considering buying that thing? we ask in silence.

Answering our own question:

No, no, they must be simply looking for the shock value, much like passersby at a road accident… or a child gawking a fellow who’s missing an ear or a leg. Nobody in their right mind would actually

But wait…

The couple approaches the man in the suit, who pretends to be startled by their approach.

The couple wheels about, indicating the obscenity on the far wall…

A few moments of animated conversation ensue, spiced with with hand gestures and head nods…

Then smiles. Handshakes.

The female of our tale adds a word of comment, followed by a bellowing laugh from the man in the suit…

All three approach the counter. A hand, the other fellow’s, reaches into a rear pocket…

We steal a voyeuristic glance at the price tag hanging from the simian treasure.

The cost? The cost? We’re tempted to say… but must refrain in decency.

We glance back at the counter…

More smiles. More handshakes.

Feeling somewhat dirty, as if emerging from a show of burlesque in the small hours… we set out to hunt a desperately needed drink, chin on chest… reflecting on the foregoing.

“Can you believe they just spent that… for that?”

Homo economicus can be the most splendidly irrational creature sometimes.

Think tulips. Think houses. Think stocks…

Think art.

That’s why we believe the greatest economic insights will always elude the dead hand of the statistician.

“There are more things in heaven and earth, Horatio, than are dreamt of in your philosophy,” as Hamlet reflected.

Or your economics, he may have added.

What compelled our young couple to venture upon such an atrocity this blue day in New York City?

We’ll never know. But it is not our place to.

Oscar Wilde famously scolded those “who know the price of everything and the value of nothing.”

Are we among them? We’re alert to that possibility.

For the sake of this couple, we hope so.

But in this case… it is unlikely…


Brian Maher
Managing editor, The Daily Reckoning

The Daily Reckoning