Barnett Newman – Blue Onement Painting

Last year a painting by artist Barnett Newman was sold at an auction by Sotheby’s. It set a new record price. The piece is called Onement Vi. It was painted in 1953 and it measures 8.5 feet by 10 feet. The reason this canvas is so coveted is because it’s the last remaining piece of the Onement series (1 of 6.) In 2012 another painting in the same series sold for $22.4 million. The remaining 4 pieces are currently owned by museums. Talk about exclusivity 🙂

Here are a few pictures of what the oil painting looks like.

14-01-bluepainting, expensive painting

Isn’t it brilliant? 😀 The flow of the surreal blue paint is almost mesmerizing. The deliberate blue brush strokes and the slightly different shades of blue really comes together well. I love how the carefully placed slightly blue-er blues around the edges of the blue canvas really brings out the entire blue-ishness of the blue painting. A few strokes of deeper blue gives it that final vibrant blue finish, without making it too overwhelmingly blue. Wow, what a masterpiece! 🙂 6 blue stars out of 5! 😛

So how much do you think it sold for at the auction?

Six bidders had to fight over this one, but in the end a telephone bidder speaking Italian ended up paying $43.8 million to be the proud owner of this painting. They say a picture is worth a thousand words. Apparently a picture can also be worth a lot of money 😉

Whether the artwork is actually worth that much money is debatable 😕 But as an investor I can certainly appreciate the financial opportunity of fine art. If the other canvas in the same series sold for $22.4 million in 2012 then these paintings have gone up in value by almost 100% in just one year. What a fantastic return! 😀 Okay, it’s decided then. I’m going to invest in some fine art 🙂 I probably can’t afford anything from a Sotheby’s auction but I’ll keep my eyes open for something more affordable.

Random useless fact: Minus 40 degrees Celsius is exactly the same as minus 40 degrees Fahrenheit.

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01/15/2014 3:16 pm

First to say, I dont see the beauty in the blue painting at all! Anyone can do it. To be sold for $43.8 million is outrageous. Too bad the painter can’t reap the rewards of it himself. Are you going to start collecting fine art pieces now? Hehe.

Steve @ The Silver Maple Leaf
Steve @ The Silver Maple Leaf
01/15/2014 3:25 pm

You could always look to David Geffen for inspiration.

I remember reading a Fortune article on him where a huge chunk of his $6 billion fortune was made by buying art.

This is an exert of the article, but not the full thing:

Steve @ The Silver Maple Leaf
Steve @ The Silver Maple Leaf
01/15/2014 4:38 pm

I believe he collected art that was already pretty famous and just sat on them and they happened to appreciate very nicely.

I guess it’s akin to owning blue chip stocks and sitting on them compared to trying to find the next big thing in penny stocks!

Financial Underdog
01/15/2014 3:46 pm

Wow, I can paint a dozen of these in a hour…


01/15/2014 4:02 pm

You mock because you’re not open minded enough to understand. 🙂 I joke [….]

I remember an NPR podcast that I listened to about a little shark that sold for millions, and another guy had the same thing and couldn’t sell it for $20. It was kind of funny.

01/15/2014 4:10 pm

I’ve thought of buying art from an investment perspective. Unfortunately there are so many issues to deal with. The first thing is most paintings are like cars and only depreciate in value..Then there is the problem of fakes…you’d need an appraiser as friend to make this a lucrative idea!

01/17/2014 4:09 pm

I think there are hedge funds…I’m not so sure about an ETF.

01/15/2014 8:06 pm

Our home is full of art…. Our favourite artist is from your neck of the woods. . Great stuff, and he is very well recognized. – We like art, but not the overly abstract stuff. We like colour and textures.. Maybe one day our collection will be worth something if sold, otherwise we’ll just enjoy it daily and share it with visitors to our home. Just be aware, much like stocks and real-estate, art can become addictive =P – Cheers.

01/17/2014 5:39 am

Take the time to find just that right piece, as you would research a stock or investment property, and I’m sure you’ll end up with just that right piece that fits with you. As to the comment on surprises… So many choices so little time – get out there and enjoy life and all its diversities as you now have a good financial base to leap off from. From you blog posts, I know you’ll excel at whatever you chose next – Cheers.

Laurie @thefrugalfarmer
01/16/2014 5:31 am

I really do love art, but, 43.8 for something my 7-year-old could paint? Maybe it’s the “big” that won people over. 🙂 I love the pic of the couple painstakingly discussing the amazing qualities of this print. 🙂

01/17/2014 8:36 am

I am a big fan of art. I would love to get my hands on an Alex Grey original painting and some day I may have the cash to make that happen.

LIke others have said, this is a world that comes with its own challenges and sometimes prices can be inflated by hype (See Mister Brainwash from Exit through the gift shop). Being too careful can lead you to miss opportunites too. Just a couple months ago Banksy was in NY doing some installations and there was someone in Central Park selling Banksy originals for $60! Of course pretty much no one really believed these were signed originals (only 7 were sold)!

The Asian Pear
01/18/2014 11:37 am

I love art and while I do find the painting nice…. but…. $43.8 million?!?! I’m sorry. No. Just… No.