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Why would a smart New York investment banker pay twelve million dollars for the decaying, stuffed carcass of a shark? How does Jackson Pollock's drip painting No.5 1948 sell for $140 million? And why does a leather jacket with silver chain attached, tossed in a corner and titled 'No One Ever Leaves', bring $690,000 at a 2007 Sotheby's auction? The Twelve Million Dollar Stuffed Shark is the first book to look at the economics of the modern art world and the strategies which power the market to produce such astronomical prices. Don Thompson talks to auction houses, dealers, and collectors to find out the source of Charles Saatchi's Midas touch, and how far a gallery like White Cube has contributed to Damien Hirst becoming the highest-earning artist in the world. The result is a fascinating, shrewd and highly readable insight into a world where brand is everything.
Don Thompson is an economist and professor of business specialising in art. He has taught at the London School of Economics and the Harvard Business School. This is his first trade book. He lives in London and Toronto.