Katya Kazakina of Bloomberg News has exposed something that looks very corrupt about the art world - 'art flipping'.
If I understand all of this correctly, it seems that some art gallery owners and buyers, along with critics and auction houses, were selecting unknown, young artists and deliberately inflating their reputations so that the value of the artists' work would continually increase every few years when the works of the artist were resold (flipped).
An initial buyer would purchase for, say, $10,000, flip the work three years later for, say, $50,000 to another flipper, who would then flip up to $100,000 or $300,000 or whatever to an 'end buyer' (perhaps a museum possibly suckered into the scheme).
All the pieces being flipped were apparently works of abstraction (because, apparently, it is easier to impute great significance to a piece most people would not easily understand or which has no meaning in the first place) and the artists were all very young (they did not have established reputations and so new and exalted reputations could, apparently, be created for them - this apparent scheme would not have worked with 40 or 50 year old artists).
Please read Katya's amazing detective work here: http://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2016-09-19/that-100-000-painting-bought-to-flip-yours-for-about-20-000
Now, the apparent scheme seems to be over and the bubble has burst; but, dear Chicagoans, which was one of the major museums to possibly get suckered into this apparent scheme - or at least to display art which, drawing conclusions from the Bloomberg News article, seems to be among recently 'flipped' art?
Chicago's Museum of Contemporary Art.
I am not 100% certain that this museum purchased the piece. On a museum blog an image of a work by Hugh Scott-Douglas is shown with this caption: " Unfortunately, I am not sure what "gift by exchange" means.
Hugh Scott-Douglas is mentioned in Kasakina's article as being one of the artists whose work was being 'flipped', so even if the museum did not pay for this work, should members of Chicago's Museum of Contemporary Art be concerned about the aesthetic value of a piece that was, apparently, possibly meant purely to be a financial commodity by art flippers?
So I guess some big questions would be: Would this artist be so well-known without all the recent art-flipping? A recent work of his had been previously sold for $100,000 and it was resold at auction for a $70,000 loss at $30,000 (due to the bubble bursting on the art flipping process). But, would this artist's work even fetch $30,000 now had it not been for the fame he acquired by having his art flipped in the first place? Can anyone ever see this artist's work outside of the fact that he was a (perhaps unwilling) beneficiary of flipping?
Should the folks who buy memberships be asking how much Chicago's Museum of Contemporary Art possibly gave away for what might be called art of questionable merit, that seemed to have its price artificially inflated by apparent corrupters of real or legitimate art?
Should members of this museum be asking the extent to which Chicago's Museum of Contemporary Art might be complicit in what truly does look like a very shady scheme which has suddenly gone south?
Personally, I think these are quite legitimate questions.
Maybe Chicago's Museum of Contemporary Art can help us poor, unenlightened proletarian viewers by establishing a section dedicated to 'flipped art' as opposed to 'unflipped art' so we can see whether there is any difference.