10.1.05

What's it worth? Everyone has an opinion on how much art is worth, what's good or rubbish, time and effort, etc. Ruskin probably started it when he said of Whistler’s 'Nocturne in Black and Gold: The Falling Rocket': 'I never expected to hear a coxcomb ask two hundred guineas for flinging a pot of paint in the public’s face'. Whistler brought a libel suit against Ruskin, claiming damages of £1000. The jury found for Whistler, but awarded a mere farthing. Then there's the (probably apocryphal) Picasso story – punter asks how much for drawing he just did on a napkin. Picasso asks $30,000 (or whatever), punter is shocked: 'what? it only took you 2 minutes!' Picasso replies: 'no it took me the whole of my life'... I like this fable told by Dave Morgan, quoted on the Freelance Journalists' discussion List: It's a bit like the story of the factory boss who notices that they're paying good money to a maintenance man to look after a machine despite the fact that the machine has never gone wrong. In the end, they make this chap redundant and replace him with a school leaver. Within days the machine grinds to a halt and in desperation they call the old chap back in. He tells them he can fix the machine, but it's going to cost them £100,000. They decide to ask him to itemise his invoice, hoping that in doing so they can find out what's wrong and replace it themselves. He breaks his invoice down thus: Replacement washer - £1.00 Knowing which washer to replace - £99,999.00
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