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January 24, 2007


Really, what are these people thinking?

The 25 most important paintings in private hands are named today amid growing concern that they may be lost to the nation because rising auction prices will tempt their owners to sell.

How can they be "lost to the nation" if the nation doesn't currently own them? Anyway, hasn't anyone told them that great art transcends such trivial things as national boundaries?

Further, imagine that the are "bought for the nation". OK, that's tax money being raised from all at gunpoint so that the minority who actually go to galleries can see them. Once again, a transfer of wealth from all to a small but vocal and politically powerful group.

Sod 'em. If they want to see them, they can pay themselves.

January 24, 2007 in Your Tax Money at Work | Permalink


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How many of the greatest paintings in museums and galleries actually donated or lent from private owners for public display?

I suspect its quite a lot.

I would think that a fair share of private art owners are happy to periodically lend their stuff for public consumption. If they appreciate art, some will probably be really enthusiastic about other people appreciating it.

Posted by: Glenn Athey | Jan 24, 2007 10:14:58 AM

I only tend to go to art galleries when I'm on holiday abroad. So I'm all in favour of great art being outside the country, as I am more likely to see it.

Posted by: Judge | Jan 24, 2007 10:30:03 AM

The Conditional Exemption Tax Incentive deserves a mention in this argument, surely?

Posted by: Gdr | Jan 24, 2007 12:48:44 PM

Also the

Posted by: Gdr | Jan 24, 2007 12:54:08 PM

Arse. I mean, the missing market problem for art.

Posted by: Gdr | Jan 24, 2007 12:55:14 PM

It's a bit more complicated than that.

On the one hand, the taxpayer should not be giving into to blackmail from rich art collectors. On the other hand, if very famous paintings end up in London art galleries, then there is a slight increase(incredibly slight and probably immeasurably so, but it must be there) in tourism in London.

So even if we went mad and spent £1bn on paintings for London art galleries, assuming a rate of return of 5%, if tourism revenues in London increased by £50m, we're actually ahead on the deal. OK, there's still an argument that maybe London council tax receipts should be used to buy the paintings, different topic.

Posted by: Mark Wadsworth | Jan 24, 2007 5:03:00 PM