The sale of art from the British Airways Galleries lounges is now in full swing on the Sotheby’s website.
If you click here it will bring up the list of images on which you can currently bid. Most are being sold via online auctions.
What is surprising is how cheaply most of it is going for. Apart from the flagship Bridget Riley, which should fetch over £1 million, many of the remaining works carry estimates as low as £4,000.
You have to wonder why British Airways is bothering. Given the staff time involved in this process, it is clearly pointless selling a piece of art from the lounge for £4,000. Sotheby’s charges VERY heavy commissions, and once you’ve factored in logistical costs plus the cost of buying a replacement picture for the lounge, it makes no sense.
The image above, for example, is by Marc Quinn. It is one of a set of eight prints which, as a set, have a reserve price of just £5,000. This means just £625 per image. It will cost BA more than £625 to buy and install its replacement, even putting zero value on the staff time involved in selling and rebuying.
For a £1 million picture, I see the point. I’m not sure, purely from an insurance angle, that I would put a £1 million picture in an airport lounge. Going to the trouble of paying Sotheby’s to sell pictures worth just £4,000, however, makes no sense. It makes this appear to be a politically motivated sale done as part of the current pay and contract negotiations with staff.
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