67% of people think this Mark Rothko is worth €79 million

This painting is called Orange, red, yellow and it was painted by the American painter Mark Rothko. On May 8th 2012, Christies sold the painting for $86,882,500, roughly the equivalent of €79 million, which was a record for a post war artwork sold at public auction. If you want a slightly better look you can see it here. The work is subject to a whole lot of ridicule, especially online, owing to its huge price-tag when compared to its apparent simplicity. Can a painting like this really be worth €79 million?

Opinion one: The question is loaded.

You’ve actually asked two questions. Firstly, can any painting be worth that sum and, secondly, if so — could this one possibly be good enough to qualify. But it’s worse than that. Because of how you’ve presented the painting and the question, it’s been set up to ridicule Rothko’s work because people will only glance at it online for a second, see three coloured blocks and move on to the next topic. Anyone who thinks that’s a way to develop an opinion about a work of art is missing out.

To answer the first version of the question, no one bought this because they believed it was worth that much money. They bought it because art is a non-taxable easily liquidated asset, a good place to hide your money. It will appreciate. This was an investment.

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