Saving threatened habitats worldwide

Modigliani sells for £38 million

25 November, 2010 - 11:46 -- John Burton

In June this year, a  Modigliani statue sold for £38 million. Expensive art is something I have written about before but  still makes me feel very hot under the collar.

It's a nice enough piece of art -- I cannot give an opinion beyond that. But £38 million for an artifact created by a human; that's outrageous. It would be perfectly possible to create a dozen facsimiles so good, that most (actually probably all) of the experts would not be able to tell the difference between the copies and the original. £38 million would let the World Land Trust save dozens of unique species for ever; it could literally save a million acres of unspoiled wilderness and everything that lives in it.

As Sir David Attenborough has pointed out on many occasions, species cannot be recreated and once they are gone they are gone forever. Aesthetic reasons are one of the best reasons for conservation, but why are humans so possessive that they will only pay that sort of money if they can own it, so that they can put it on a wall or in a cabinet?

So my question is: Rather than insisting on owning a work of art (and a species is surely a work of art far more valuable than anything that humans have ever created),  when will the super-rich simply want to pay for the priviledge of saving the artwork for posterity?

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