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The Supermodel and the Brillo Box: Back Stories and Peculiar Economics from the World of Contemporary Art

3.84  ·  Rating details ·  203 ratings  ·  22 reviews
Acquiring contemporary art is about passion and lust, but it is also about branding, about the back story that comes with the art, about the relationship of money and status, and, sometimes, about celebrity. The Supermodel and the Brillo Box follows Don Thompson's 2008 bestseller The $12 Million Stuffed Shark and offers a further journey of discovery into what the Crash of ...more
Hardcover, 288 pages
Published May 27th 2014 by St. Martin's Press (first published May 6th 2014)
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3.84  · 
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 ·  203 ratings  ·  22 reviews

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Biblio Files (takingadayoff)
Mar 15, 2014 rated it really liked it
Don Thompson is an economist, not an art critic. To be honest, I'm tired of the "let's look at every subject through the lens of economics" genre, so it's a good thing I didn't realize I was reading such a book until I was well into it and pretty much hooked.

Thompson has a lot to say about the art market, but his main point is that a good backstory is vital to selling a work for the most money possible. Everyone loves a good story. It could be that the art was owned by a movie star or that the a
Ilya Kavalerov
Oct 01, 2014 rated it liked it
A slightly disappointing sequel to "The $12 Million Stuffed Shark." Much of the message in that book is recapitulated in the first few chapters here, and the first third feels like an acceleration of $12 Million Stuffed Shark and thereby pretty good.

Same concepts of dealer and artist brand being responsible for making social markets for the top 0.01%. Quotes like:

“Artist careers progress through a process that the art world calls validation and the business world knows as brand equity.”, “The do
Olga Zbranek Biernátová
Jak prodat voskovou figurínu své manželky?

Don Thompson přichází po knize Jak prodat vycpaného žraloka za 12 milionů dolarů s dalším výletem do světa umění. Supermodelka a krabice Brillo mapuje dobu od roku 2008 a na rozdíl od předchozí knihy nabízí mnohem širší perspektivu, než je tečkovaný svět Damiena Hirsta. Čtěte celou recenzi:
James McGrath
Mar 22, 2015 rated it really liked it
Half of it is an interesting update and incremental information to his previous book but you find yourself reading a lot of the basics again
Theremin Poisoning
Jun 21, 2018 rated it really liked it
The economics are somewhat interesting, but the "back stories" are LIFE.
Mar 06, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Just bloody brilliant - well-researched, so convincingly argued, page-turning pacing
Ninette Gyorody
Feb 25, 2017 rated it really liked it
A great read about the secondary art market and how it operates unto itself. Accessible with anecdotes and jaw dropping stories of what happens with the billion dollar plus club. Helped me understand economic terms related to desire and need. I knew I would never get to own a Warhol, now I definitely know I won't! Chapters delve into art fairs, online art auctions, dealer behaviour, collector behaviour, the most sought after contemporary living artists and the auction houses.
Bonnie Brody
May 01, 2014 rated it liked it
Don Thompson, author of The Supermodel and the Brillo Box, is an economist. He writes about contemporary art from an economist's vantage point which is a very interesting perspective. The reader is privy to the reasons behind the valuation of art and the trends in the art market. Mr. Thompson carefully analyzes several topics of interest including collecting and investing, contemporary artists, the role of auction houses, galleries, status, and the prices of art as they fluctuate in the market.

The emperor has no clothes.

This seems to be the undercurrent of this book, that examines the economics of the upper echelon of the contemporary art market, without ever discussing the intrinsic value of the various pieces of art that comprise today's contemporary art scene. For example, Thompson poses the question of what is the difference between a $5000 painting and a $50,000 one, and his answer boils down to status. Status of the dealer, status of the artist, status of collectors of the artis
Abandoned at page 142.

This sequel to The $12 Million Stuffed Shark falls flat. It had its moments in the first half, but I was trudging through it more than I ever did with its predecessor, and ultimately I have admitted defeat.

But there is one chapter that is totally worth reading and I found just as enjoyable and interesting as the entire first book: "The Art Market Crash of '08." The economic down turn happened almost right after the release of The $12 Million Stuffed Shark and it brought an
Marc Delgado
May 18, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
La supermodelo y la caja de Brillo , de Don Thompson no es tanto una crítica sino una fotografía panorámica del mercado del arte contemporáneo de hoy en día. Superada la barrera que el arte tiene que ser bello y placentero a los sentidos para convertirse en un medio de expresión, la diferencia de lo que vale una obra de arte de otra hoy en día es algo borroso que responde a diversas confluencias, entre ellas la frivolidad de los que compran arte por tenerlo.
Aún así, este es un libro necesari
Don Thompson
Jun 21, 2014 rated it liked it
With the price of contemporary art sometimes beyond comprehension Don Thompson (not me) tries to explain why this is from the viewpoint of an economist. Why does Damien Hirsts work inspire such devotion? In essence he tries, somewhat successfully, to explain that this is like the futures market, art collectors are 'gambling' on success. But in the background is the shadier side, the sellers of this art are not necessarily arbiters of taste, they are profit seekers. The point he makes, and makes ...more
Jul 06, 2014 rated it liked it
I love modern art. I love it a little less after reading this book. Seems dealers control this world and drive up prices for the big artists. In a great deal of cases they create the demand for those artists. However, there are some really fun stories about exhibitions I wish I had seen...especially some of the more stunt-like pieces. One artist actually copies all the pieces from a show across the street and that is his show. Good stuff. And there will always be artist like Banksy that can take ...more
Less stellar than his first work on the subject. He traces the portrait of the contemporary art market after the 2008 crisis but not as well as he did in the previous book and covered the period before 2008.

Quite a few things were repeated from the first book, remixed but at core same facts. It gives a feeling of déjè lu to the work. Still Thompson's style is clear, accessible and over all interesting.

Less engrossing but still interesting.
May 27, 2014 rated it really liked it
Shelves: first-reads
If you are curious about the modern art scene, this book is for you. The author gives an interesting and simple explanation of what drives the people involved in contemporary art. Artists, art auctions, and marketing methods are all explored in the making of art economics. And it’s pretty crazy.
Chelsea Demarco
Nov 13, 2014 rated it liked it
didn't finish it all, need to re-read
Hernán Worthalter
Jan 07, 2016 rated it really liked it
Al estilo del tiburón 12 millones de dólares
Bailey Daniels
Sep 08, 2014 rated it really liked it
This book is a fascinating look at why the modern art market fetches prices which are incomprehensible to the vast majority of the world. I appreciated being able to peek behind the scenes!
Feb 15, 2015 rated it liked it
Interesting topic but fairly dry writing. Michael Lewis this is not...
Theodore Kinni
Jan 18, 2016 rated it really liked it
Fun and scary stories that will make you think twice before you buy modern art
Edith Vaisberg
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