Back in 1987:
The mystery of who paid a record $39.9 million for Vincent van Gogh’s ”Sunflowers” was solved last week when the owner of the world’s most expensive painting was revealed to be the Yasuda Fire and Marine Insurance Company of Japan.
The auctioneer said the piece was one of the most important Chinese vases to go on sale this century. It is understood it was sold to a private buyer from China.
Sunflowers (still on display in the Sompo Japan Museum of Art and a miserable bit of art. It’s funny how expensive art seems to be, well, artless!) was bought in early 1987. At most two years later the bubble era was coming to it’s hissing end.
Can’t be bothered to to convert $39.9 million and £53 million into today dollars, but it seems likely that the chinese just upped the ante. You’ve got to ask yourself after years and years of 10% plus growth rates, how much life is there left in that bubble?
[As an (horrifying) aside: a few months ago i read a paper that argued that if the environmental impact of china’s 10% growth rate was actually taken into account, the economy was actually shrinking at 3% a year. All those horrendously polluted mines, rivers, farms, skies, industrial cancer clusters, the destroyed habitats, and encroaching deserts are all going to be paid for by future generations… not that i want to give the impression that we didn’t make exactly the same mistakes during the industrial revolution, it’s just that the current players are capable of far more technologically advanced fuck ups.]