Boom and Bust in the Art World

Just when you thought the contemporary art world couldn’t get any more contrarian, it has begun disrespecting the economic facts of our time. Amidst the biggest financial crisis since the Great Depression, the arts are posting bigger numbers than ever before and, as usual, they are being quite showy about it. But in America, where celebrity is synonymous with success, everyone's favorite photographer, Annie Leibovitz, is being sued over a $24 million loan—her two homes and the rights to her photographs are at stake.


One week ahead of the New York International Fringe Festival, the Edinburgh Festival Fringe kicks off today in Edinburgh (pronounced Edin-borough), Scotland. Hosting over 18,000 performers from 60 different countries, it is the world’s largest arts festival celebrating all mediums from comedy to opera. Despite, or perhaps because of, economic woes worldwide, tickets for the festival have dramatically outsold years past.

But not everyone in the art world is laughing. Surprisingly, one of the contemporary masters, photographer Annie Leibovitz, finds herself in debt to the tune of $24 million. The Art Capital Group, a New York company that lends money to artists, extended a $24 million loan to Leibovitz, taking as collateral her two New York homes and the rights to her work.

While Leibovitz has not made a public statement, some are speculating that declaring bankruptcy would at least delay the lawsuit filed by the Art Capital Group.  The firm alleges Leibovitz has reneged on the loan, which claims to hold the rights to work as collateral. Here is one blog following the story.

The Edinburgh Festival was established in response to such unpleasant financial realities. Begun in 1947, the festival sought to bring a little good cheer to mid-war England where rationing made every day life a struggle.

If you think you’ve got what it takes to get a laugh, you might be on your way to Scotland to record an Edinburgh Festival podcast. You can enter the standup comedy competition here.

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