I happen to like modern art but there are times that the price of such work leaves my head spinning. That was the case with Carl Andre’s stack of 120 firebricks. In 1966, the Tate Museum was criticized for buying the pile of bricks for $3600. That proved a bargain when another version of the pile of brick was sold at a Sotheby’s auction in 2008 for $1.1 Million. Now, an unmade bed by Tracey Emin has sold for $4.25 million.
It turns out Mom was wrong. You can get somewhere by not cleaning your room. “My Bed” is replete with cigarette butts, crumpled sheets and underwear — enough to drive many mothers perfectly insane (though to could easily imagine my grandmother walking into the museum and making the bed instinctively and finding herself on the hook for millions).
Emin’s 1998 work came in at well over the expected price, though that price was only 1 million pounds below the selling price (which is about $4.25 million above the price most people would have put on the piece).
In fairness, I do find the concept of Emin using her bed and such debris from her life as a type of self portrait to be interesting, but $4.25 interesting? Before the auction, Emin told the press that “I feel quite sad, and I feel that it’s like a fragment of time.” I can understand that but it is amazing what millions of dollars will do for solace in the loss of your unmade bed.
In the meantime, I am going to keep this story away from the kids.