Art Anxiety is a Crippling Disorder for the Wealthy

Posted on March 3, 2008

The International Herald Tribune reports on the latest affliction for the wealthy: art anxiety. Multi-millionaires who spend freely on cars and luxury homes quibble when they have to shell out $15,000 for a painting. How will they know if it's really any good, they wonder. Longtime art collector Teddy Greenspan has witnessed many people struggle when it comes to buying art.

"If you are in the process of decorating a home, you know what the sofa costs; you have a good idea of what wallpaper costs," he said, but art is different. "People don't like spending big numbers on things they don't understand. They understand the boat, the fur, the car, but for lack of homework or lack of taste, they just don't understand art."

Art paralysis: It is a widespread and often crippling malady, striking everyone from the new college grad in his or her first apartment to the super-rich banker, lasting anywhere from a few months to a lifetime. How many are affected is not known, perhaps because the victims are often too embarrassed to come forth. Who wants to admit that "I've had these posters since college, I know that as one of the American Top 10 Orthodontists I should get some real art, but I don't know what that means"? Or that "It's not that I'm trying to make a minimalist statement with these empty white walls, I just don't know what to buy"? Or "I walk into those snooty galleries in Chelsea and feel like I just don't belong"?

Art anxiety is a terrible affliction. We think it's simply shameful that none of the presidential candidates are addressing. Of course, those who are afflicted could just hire a consultant to clue them in or -- God forbid -- study up on the subject. Think positively, art anxiety sufferers. There is hope you can learn about art: Yes, you can!

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