Episode 189: Why A Dead Shark Costs $12 Million : Planet Money Today's show is about the fickle market for art. What makes a dead shark cost $12 million, and a photo of steel wool that looks like a tornado cost only $1,265?
NPR logo Episode 189: Why A Dead Shark Costs $12 Million

Episode 189: Why A Dead Shark Costs $12 Million

The famous work "The Physical Impossibility of Death in the Mind of Someone Living" by British artist Damien Hirst. REGINA KUEHNE/ASSOCIATED PRESS hide caption

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REGINA KUEHNE/ASSOCIATED PRESS

This episode originally ran in 2010.

In 2005, artist Damien Hirst's dead shark reportedly sold for $12 million. Meanwhile, a small business owner named Eddie Saunders had a dead shark hanging in his electrical shop for years. He couldn't even sell it for $1.5 million.

We wanted to understand this. Why did Hirst's shark go for so much?

We talk to a New York gallery owner and the late economist William Baumol about the fickle and uncertain market of art.

If you're interested in learning more about the contemporary art world or checking out the images we talk about in the show, here's what to do.

You can read Ed Winkleman's blog, browse the works of Matthew Albanese, the man behind the steel-wool tornado, and check out "Art Investment as Floating Crap Game" by Baumol.

And here's a slide show of the work mentioned in the episode.

Music: "Trampoline" and "Hip Hop Fairy Queen."

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