Magazine August 10, 2020, Issue

By Any Other Name

Salvator Mundi, the Louvre Museum, Paris, France, October 20, 2019 (Benoit Tessier/Reuters)
The tale of a downwardly mobile portrait

Where is value found? Where — if anywhere — can it be located? In an era such as the one we are entering, this becomes more than a philosophical question. After the 2008 crisis, wealth rushed to the topmost end of the art market, in the belief (often correct) that a judiciously chosen canvas could harbor value better than gold.

Yet the rush of money into art always has a distorting effect, further exaggerating the value that auction houses and a tiny group of high-net-worth individuals place on the work of certain artists. And dulling even further our ability to appreciate

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