Rich People Spending Money on Icky Things

Yuck. I’m glad I’m not rich. I might be persuaded to buy a bar of soap.

BASEL, Switzerland (Reuters) — Perhaps the oddest piece of work at Art Basel is a bar of soap, displayed on a square of black velvet, purportedly made from Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi’s fat, removed during liposuction.

Gianni Monti’s work called ‘Clean Hands’ — the title is a play on the name of an anti-Mafia group — sold in less than an hour for 15,000 euros ($18,000) to a private Swiss collector, according to Monti’s Galerie Nicola von Senger of Zurich.

The work from the Swiss-based Italian has shock value with a twist, but Monti is not alone reveling in super-charged sales this week at Art Basel, the world’s largest annual art fair where 275 dealers in modern and contemporary art display their wares making it a mecca for over 50,000 collectors and curators.

“People with spare cash don’t know where to put their money. When the bond market fizzled earlier this year, I started getting a lot more interest from wealthy clients,” said Arthur Solway, director at James Cohan Gallery in New York.


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