Making greatness priceless with price

Armchair opinionators may be quick to judge the auction of the guitar used by Eric Clapton to write his 1977 classic ballad, ‘Wonderful Tonight’, as yet another case of ‘commodification of culture‘. But the iconic guitarist’s 1974 000-28 Martin acoustic instrument going under the hammer on June 12, with a base price of $500,000, underlines a great aspect of capitalism that is not talked about enough: putting value to objects associated with great creations.

You may snigger at Marilyn Monroe’s lipstick-stained napkin, Elvis Presley’s rhinestone-studded jumpsuit, or Einstein’s pipe fetching a fetching price for some well-walleted collector. But a deeper irony is at play here. In a society that seems to prioritise materialism over creativity, auctioning off the possessions of the famous and gifted may be one genuine way of acknowledging the value of their contributions.

It’s not so much reducing the genius of artists, scientists, writers, musicians, innovators to price tags on their personal effects, but more about acknowledging their value in the most objective manner possible: imbuing them with worth and making them priceless with price. Instead of making mementos of our greats – say, Manto’s notebooks or Raj Kapoor-Nargis’ umbrella in Shree 420 – languish, or worse, we should make the market give them the respect they deserve.


This website uses cookies. By continuing to use this site, you accept our use of cookies.