June 17th, 2010
05:52 PM GMT
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William Kentridge is the perhaps the closest the African art world has to a rock star. He is a rarity because his work is in demand around the world by serious art collectors. He, along with a handful of others, is one of the continent’s most commercially successful artists.

So how has the economic downturn affected big name artists like Kentridge?

Speaking to me in his home studio, with his stark black and white charcoal drawings pasted on the walls, Kentridge seemed unconcerned about the bursting of the art bubble in the past two years. He did acknowledge that galleries which sold his paintings “had to work harder to sell the same amount of work.”

In fact, buyers from major institutions like New York’s Museum of Modern Art all bought Kentridge’s. So too did those wealthy international art patrons who sustain the global art market with their deep pockets and love of contemporary art.

Kentridge made me laugh when he described, in a rather scathing manner, how having money didn’t necessarily make you an art connoisseur. “Most people who have a lot of money, by cheap, stupid art,” he said, “an interior decorator will decorate the houses, overpay for mediocre work. And they spend their money on yachts and cars and airplanes and things like that.”

The value of art, particularly here in South Africa, has increased significantly. Strauss & Co, a Johannesburg auction house selling 20th Century art, says, although it is only halfway through 2010, they have already earned more than last year. In fact, recently, a new world record was set for a still-life by a South African artist. A stunning piece by Irma Stern sold for more than a million dollars.

Overall, local art experts say prices at the top end of the art market in South Africa have increased by an average of 500 percent in the last ten years.

That is pretty good news if you are William Kentridge or you bought one of his drawings twenty years ago.

June 17th, 2010
05:21 AM GMT
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June 17th, 2010
04:46 AM GMT
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(CNN) – Whether it’s the Olympics or the World Cup, groups vying for prestigious sporting events always tout the economic impact of the games.

For example, a pitch by the USA Bid Committee to host the World Cup in 2018 or 2022 estimates that the games would have a $5 billion impact on the economy and add 65,000 to 100,000 jobs to the local economy.

But over time, what real impact does hosting the World Cup have on local economies? Not much, according to a study released last week by Daiwa Capital Markets.

Analyzing the 15 country economies where 18 World Cups have been held since 1930, the study found that the real GDP growth averaged about half percent a year.

But wait, there’s more – if  Uruguay, which held the 1930 World Cup, is taken out of the equation, the figures suggest the World Cup actually depresses the economic growth in the host country by 0.75 percent year on year, followed by a 1 percent recovery the year after, according to Daiwa.

Don Eggington, head of long-term analysis and modeling for Daiwa, concludes: “So, despite being the ‘World’s most widely viewed sporting event,’ the evidence suggests that the World Cup’s impact on the host country’s economy is too small to over-ride the other economic forces at work.

“As such, while South Africa is likely to reap plenty of publicity over the coming month, the evidence from previous tournaments suggests that the tournament will do nothing to boost growth, and hence nothing to tackle the enormous social problems that continue to confront the country.”

This reminds me of coverage (including our own) of whether Beijing would succumb to “the Olympic curse” after hosting the 2008 games.  Study after study shows that with few exceptions, the year after the games the host economies tend to fall, and the expected bounce in tourism thanks to the media exposure never materializes.

Three weeks after the close of the Beijing games Lehman Brothers went bust – igniting the “Great Recession” – so the “after” effect of the games in China may be hard to judge.

But if these studies are right, it makes one wonder why so much attention is paid to the economic impact of hosting large sporting events. Perhaps a jolt of pride and patriotism is more difficult to put a price tag on.

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