Art comes in many forms: hilariously insane, criminally insane, obsessively insane, spitefully insane, perversely insane, and video games. Still, as much as we like to poke fun at weird artists and their weirdo creations, should we really expect anything but lunacy from them? After all, they all operate within the belly of a much bigger, more insane beast: the art world itself.
The Art World Is Tailor-Made For Crime
You're a cocaine dealer from South America, and you just made hundreds of millions of dollars off your delicious dope. How do you keep lawmen from seizing your dirty cash? You clean it with art, of course! The art world just so happens to be a perfect haven for money laundering. Traditional methods of money laundering (like the restaurant business) have all sorts of safeguards against full anonymity: stupid, petty stuff like having to name your business, keeping your books in something approaching balance, and actually dealing with customers that want to trade money for food. The bastards.
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And try explaining why your car wash customers all pay in coke and/or blood stained $50s.
All that bullshit goes away with art. Secrecy is a hallmark of art dealing, one of the few industries where both the buyer and seller can and frequently prefer to remain anonymous, which is perfect for criminals wanting to move their dirty cash. One way to do it is by importing art at a ridiculously cheap price, when in reality the painting is worth millions of dollars. How bold do they get? Pretty damn, we'd say: In 2007, authorities caught a Brazilian embezzler transporting an $8 million Basquiat painting, labeled to be worth just $100.
U.S. Attorney's Office
Clearly too low a price for such a masterpiece.