Is marketplace the best judge of art? A debate -- and an answer

The art market experienced a noteworthy correction in Hong Kong last week.

On Friday, a formal debate was held at the newest spinoff of the Art Basel franchise of international art fairs to consider the motion: “The Market Is the Best Judge of Art’s Quality.”

According to a report in the business section of the South China Morning Post, the motion went down to resounding defeat. Balloting saw 25% voting in favor and 73% against.


CHEAT SHEET: Spring Arts Preview

Even more damning: Prior to the debate, 20% were in favor and 60% against, with 20% undecided. The arguments convinced more than half of the undecideds to reject the claim that sales trump all other measures of a work of art’s caliber.

Speaking for the claim were Amy Cappellazzo of Christie’s auction house and longtime art investment advisor and art dealer Jeffrey Deitch, current director of the Museum of Contemporary Art. Artists Matthew Collings and Rirkrit Tiravanija spoke against.

The newspaper also noted that the official drink at the art fair came from the world’s oldest established champagne house -- Ruinart.