Luxury Amid the Ruins

From the Observer

If the British were not such a docile nation, the opening of the Masterpiece London for buyers of “to die for” luxuries, would have provoked riots in the streets. The timing could not have been worse. In the week in which George Osborne presented a budget whose punishment of the humble for a recession brought on by the mighty looks nastier by the day, dealers turned the site of the old Chelsea Barracks into a temple of conspicuous consumption. Never has good taste seemed such poor form.

To describe the extravaganza as an art or antiques sale would be to miss its scope. The organisers of Masterpiece have not tried to woo a specific market, but assembled a mishmash of exhibitors, who have little in common beyond their determination to sell extremely expensive items to extraordinarily wealthy customers. If you have to ask the prices of the rare pink diamonds from Asprey, the Fabergé pieces of A La Vieille Russie, the regency bookcases, the 1932 Bugatti, the black walnut billiard table or the De Bethune watches which look so enticing in their gold and platinum cases… you probably can’t afford them. If you catch glimpses of paintings which remind you of Renoir or Constable amid the fine wine, jewellery and furniture, that will be because they are by Renoir or Constable.

Carry on reading

2 thoughts on “Luxury Amid the Ruins

  1. It’s somewhat at odds with George Osborne’s phrase ‘we’re all in this together’.
    The ‘some of us are more equal than others’ phrase could be adapted slightly to ‘some of us are more in this than others’.

  2. we should do:The right banclae today requires creating jobs partly through additional fiscal stimulus aimed at productive infrastructure investment. It also requires more progressive taxation; more short-term fiscal stimulus with medium- and long-term fiscal discipline; lender-of-last-resort support by monetary authorities to prevent ruinous runs on banks; reduction of the debt burden for insolvent households and other distressed economic agents; and stricter supervision and regulation of a financial system run amok; breaking up too-big-to-fail banks and oligopolistic trusts.Over time, advanced economies will need to invest in human capital, skills and social safety nets to increase productivity and enable workers to compete, be flexible and thrive in a globalized economy. The alternative is – like in the 1930s unending stagnation, depression, currency and trade wars, capital controls, financial crisis, sovereign insolvencies, and massive social and political instability.

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