The Deal of the Art

By Adam Hanft

“The auction of Lehman Brothers: Artwork and Ephemera realized $2,593,749, surpassing its pre-sale estimate. Offering artworks and selected items of interest which once adorned the walls and offices of the British and European [offices] of the former banking powerhouse Lehman Brothers, the auction attracted over 1,100 registered bidders from around the world.”

        — From a Christie’s press release

Lot #27 — “The Irreconcilability of Art and Adam Smith” —  Body of casually clad Lehman Brothers Managing Director preserved in formaldehyde, with live shark  in adjacent tank chuckling at the ironic reversal.  Estimate: $1,000,000 – $1,5000,000, including annual maintenance contract for shark.

Lot #50: Diptych:  “Hedge Fund Manager Not Being Able to Look At Himself In the Mirror When He Shaves in the Morning” — digital photographic collage, with  “Hedge Fund Manager Claiming He’s Able to Look At Himself in the Mirror When He Shaves in the Morning.”  Estimate: $75,000 in Cayman Islands currency.
 
Lot #52: “My Bonus is Bigger Than Your Bonus” — waist-down photograph of ten naked employees of the mortgage-backed securities department, holding their actual bonus checks.  Estimate: Between $5,000 and $8,000 dollars.
 
Lot #58: “Enter Laughing, Exit Laughing” – Ten-foot sculpture made entirely of melted keys from foreclosed Las Vegas houses,  complete with media installation of weeping evictees. Estimate:  $50,000 (only gold bullion accepted).

Lot #66 – “Death and Acceleration Clauses”   —  Pine casket filled with worthless, shredded second mortgages. The Treasury Department will immediately re-purchase the lot from successful bidder for $1 million dollars above purchase price plus buyer premium.  Estimate: Ask Department.

Lot # 71–“Fun With Ayn” — Series of pop-art inspired portraits of Ayn Rand as Joan of Arc, Marilyn Monroe, Lady Gaga and Rachel Maddow.  Comes with authenticated certificate of inauthenticity. Estimate: $65,000 (counterfeit only).

Lot #82 –  “Hand Laundry” — Collection of Purell bottles assembled from Lehman’s global facilities and bronzed. Estimate: Sorry–insider information.

Lot # 101  “Napa Valley Wine and Artisanal Cheese Tasting In The Second Tranche of the Garden of Eden,” oil, ground porcini, and securitized stardust, signed by Pastor Dieter Brown, outsider artist and former Lehman Brothers pastry chef.  Estimate: Free, to anyone who can remove from Christie’s premises.


Adam Hanft writes on consumer culture for Salon, Huffington Post, Slate, The Daily Beast, and Fast Company. He also wrote TV comedy for Garry Marshall.

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