Oeno Econ: Thoughts On Art, Wine, & Investment Potential

Oeno Econ.

Wine & Economics.

Art & Commerce.

How about these for a pair of quotes?

The first is from a letter to the editor in Decanter magazine, and the second is from a letter to the editor in The New York Times Magazine:

“Being allergic to alcohol, I’ll never have the chance to enjoy the wines I own, so my decisions on what to buy are based solely on investment potential.” (from Decanter)

“When art becomes primarily an object to be bought and sold at market value, the entire purpose of artistic expression is sullied. It certainly is true that “a thing of beauty is a joy forever,” but these vulgar “collectors” buying art in the hope that it will “pay off” in appreciated value take all the joy out of it. If crass commercialism is unavoidable, at the very least artists should be able to avoid being exploited by the market. I would be in favor of a royalty system whereby the artist and her heirs share in the resale of her artistic works.” (from The New York Times Magazine)

These quotes, read together, seem  certainly to propose a rather interesting, and even provocative, way of looking at the intersections of art & commerce, and more specifically, the intersections of wine-as-art & wine-as-business.

A few questions spring immediately to mind:

–Do you think there is anything wrong with buying “art” strictly for investment potential?

–Can wine be considered “art?”

–If so, is there anything “wrong” with buying wine strictly for investment potential?

If you believe no, then that essentially ends the questioning. But if you think yes, then:

–Is the “wrong” of buying wine strictly for investment potential a case of sullying “the entire purpose of artistic expression?”

–And finally, what about the writer’s suggestion as regards a “royalty system,” whereby artists share in the proceeds of a resale? Good idea, bad idea? Possible, not possible? And could it apply to wine? Should producers of wine share in the proceeds of a resale?

Just thinkin’ out loud on the page …

Oeno Econ.



Categories: Press Reviews, Viticultural Salmagundi, Wine & Art, Wine & Philosophy

Tags: , , , , , , , ,

2 replies

  1. Is wine art? No.

    Wine is an agricultural product. It is made with great skill and knowledge, manufactured to create aesthetic pleasure, but it is a consumable food product nevertheless. It is made to please the palate, complement good food, and nourish the relationships with those you share it with. That’s a pretty high calling without calling it art.

  2. It’s interesting that, in the US, California alone recognizes any sort of a resale right for artists, although the limitations on “fine art” in California law (“Fine art” means an original painting, sculpture, or drawing, or an original work of art in glass., CA civil code 986 (c) 2), are more limiting than I would prefer.

    All in all, I’d be of a mind to include a variety of things, including fine wine, including photography, including a variety of sorts of digital art, that are not (I think? I’m not a lawyer) included by the California laws. Copyright and the associated benefits have a basis in a pragmatic belief that encouraging excellence in artistic endeavor is of societal benefit, and I certainly believe that fine wine belongs within that scope.

    You can read CA CC 986 here: http://leginfo.ca.gov/cgi-bin/displaycode?section=civ&group=00001-01000&file=980-989

    I don’t know how similar laws answer the very challenging question of “What is art?” in France, in the EU, and other venues that recognize the “droit de suite”.

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