provenance |ˈprɒv(ə)nəns|
the place of origin or earliest known history of something : an orange rug of Iranian provenance.
• the beginning of something’s existence; something’s origin : they try to understand the whole universe, its provenance and fate.
See note at origin .
• a record of ownership of a work of art or an antique, used as a guide to authenticity or quality : the manuscript has a distinguished provenance.
ORIGIN late 18th cent.: from French, from the verb provenir ‘come or stem from,’ from Latin provenire, from pro- ‘forth’ + venire ‘come.’

I watched The World’s Most Expensive Paintings last night on BBC1

It was, of course, really interesting. But one of the things about mega-high priced art that I had never considered before is something called provenance. That is, who owned the piece before it came on the market this time.

Sometimes the subject matter (such as a Warhol of Marilyn) is enough to reach a sky-high price. But imagine if that piece had been owned by someone equally as famous – such as John Lennon. The price would rocket beyond belief.

Or if the work had a chequered past (as well as being a glorious piece) – as a political hostage/stolen etc. this can also add to its value.

Really, what I’m saying is that mega-art is never that way SOLELY because of the work. It’s the back story (think X factor) that comes with it that adds up to such a high price.


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