Opinion: Toward a Better Understanding of High Auction Prices for Young Artists

March 17, 2014 |

By Calvin Siegel

A strange man walks into a bar. He knows no one. No one knows him. He approaches the bar and the bartender acknowledges him. The man orders a drink, and the bartender initiates conversation, “I don’t recognize you from anywhere, do I?” asks the bartender. “No, no,” says the man, “I’m in town on business.” “What kind of business is it that you are here for?” asks the bartender. “Well,” the man says, “it’s kind of hard to believe, but I earn a living traveling around and making crazy bets.” This piques the bartender’s interest; “what kind of bets are we talking about here?” The strange man looks around the bar aimlessly before answering, “Ok. For instance, I bet you ten dollars that I can drink ten shots of whiskey in ten seconds.”

Knowing full well that no one could accomplish this task, the bartender agrees and lines the shot glasses up on the bar, looking at the man as he pours them out. The bartender then lays ten dollars on the table to which the strange man reciprocates. They both look at the clock and the bartender says, “GO!” The man, looking all of a sudden uninterested, drinks three of the shots, wipes his mouth off and gives up. The bartender is a little perplexed by the situation, but collects his money and shakes the man’s hand.

The night goes on. The strange man stays for a long time and talks to all of the various people at the bar until it is time to close. After the bartender makes his last call, the man approaches the bar. “I have one more bet for you, if you are at all interested” says the strange man to the bartender. Charmed in a strange way by the strange man, the bartender agrees to hear him out. “I bet you,” says the man, “one hundred dollars that if you line up another ten shot glasses in the same formation as before, that I can stand at the other end of the bar and piss into every one of those glasses until each is filled perfectly to the brim without spilling one single drop, anywhere.” The bartender weighs this for a moment; one hundred dollars is the most money he has ever made at one time, but what has this man got up his sleeve? Deciding that the man, although strangely cool, must be a little bit off, the bartender nods his head and begins to set up the glasses, again.

high auction prices (opt 1)

The strange man walks across the bar, and as the bartender finishes setting up the glasses and steps aside, he turns around, drops his pants down to his ankles and begins to piss all over the bartender’s entire establishment. This goes on for about thirty seconds as all of the people in the bar stare in amazement. Ecstatic at his grand new acquisition, the bartender leaps into action with rag in hand and starts wiping the mess up. The strange man slowly pulls his pants up, zips his fly and buckles his belt. “So,” the bartender asks the man with a smile, “What was that about?” “Well”, the man says calmly, “I just bet everyone else in this place one hundred dollars each that I could piss all over your bar and you would just smile and wipe it up.”

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