“I am involved in one of the last great cartels, the art world. A place for the wealthy to “hide” their assets, to dodge taxes, and to celebrate their influence” — C.K. Wilde
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This quote from C.K. Wilde suggests that the art world functions partly as a means for wealthy individuals to obscure or launder assets for tax purposes while also publicly displaying their status and connections.
The best interpretation is that Wilde sees the art market as effectively operating like an unregulated “cartel” through which the rich can covertly move and store significant funds in high-value artworks to potentially avoid taxes on luxury purchases or investments.
Additionally, acquiring famous pieces allows the elite to flaunt cultural capital and socialize within exclusive art circles. So in essence, the quote portrays the art scene in a cynical light as providing avenues for the affluent to subtly wield economic power and influence beyond just appreciation of aesthetics according to Wilde’s view.