Ben Horowitz has a great guide to the dreaded “down round” today — that unloved point in the evolution of a venture-backed technology company when it’s forced to raise money at a lower valuation than it received in previous rounds. Certainly, such things shouldn’t be unexpected. As he explains:
Let me clear this up so that Donn Zaretsky can have no doubt. When I say that the Michigan attorney general is “absolutely right” that the art collection of the Detroit Institute of Arts cannot be sold to satisfy the city’s financial obligations, I mean that he’s right both legally and normatively.
Alice Gregory, in the NYT, has been reading her Austen: “It is a truth universally acknowledged,” she writes, “that a young technologist in possession of a good fortune must be in want of a high-end art collection”. Well, maybe she doesn’t put it exactly like that. But that’s her clear message:
I first heard about the Sustainable Preservation Initiative back in 2009. Back then, it was little more than an idea attached to a tollgate. The problem at hand is the large number of antiquities and important archaeological sites which exist in poor areas of poor countries. Historically, that has been a recipe for looting; more recently, those sites have been more at risk of simply being bulldozed as urban areas sprawl. As SPI’s Larry Coben and Rebekah Junkermeier write, the way that archaeologists have historically attempted to address those problems — conservation, education and museums — simply didn’t work. So, they came up with another idea — one which would give locals a sustainable financial incentive to maintain and preserve their patrimony.
There’s a very simple and cost-free thing that all news organizations can do to make their news better: every time you write about a court filing or judgment, link to it. (And, ideally, make sure it’s been uploaded to Recap, too.) For instance, consider Patricia Cohen’s NYT article about David Mirvish’s lawsuit against the Knoedler gallery. (See what I did there? You’re welcome.)
Gary Sernovitz, a research analyst turned novelist, has 3,500 words in n+1 about Stevie Cohen, trading, and art collecting. That’s about 3,000 words too many: his core thesis is really pretty simple. Cohen’s art collecting, says Sernovitz, holds up a mirror to his professional life: both are about the “struggle against the mortality of the edge”.
Carol Vogel has a good summation of the craziness at Gagosian right now. Within the space of a week, the largest and most important art gallery in the world suffered three massive defections: first Jeff Koons announced he would have a major show with archrival David Zwirner, then Damien Hirst said he was leaving Gagosian entirely, and then Yayoi Kusama said that she, too, was leaving.
Blake Gopnik has an excellent piece on the art bubble in the latest Newsweek (where he was sadly laid off last week), which has been met by a predictable rubbishing from Marion Maneker. Both men agree on the symptoms: prices unrelated to quality, and artists who can go from hot to not in a very short amount of time. But they disagree on what those symptoms mean: Gopnik thinks that they mean “today’s contemporary market is due to deflate”, while Maneker sees art-market ups and downs as just part of what happens in any healthily-functioning market, and nothing to get particularly excited about.