When the shit hits the can...

it can bring your heirs large amounts of money.

This has recently been proved when Tate Modern, one of the most prominent modern art gallies in the world, recently bought a can of faeces from the late artist Piero Manzoni for GBP 22,300.

The can is number 4 of 90 that Manzoni made in 1961. The cans are normal steel cans with "Artist's Shit" printed on the label. The idea was to demonstrate how easily you could trick art buyers into buying anything. In the last 40 years the value of the cans have increased in price, since about half of them have exploded, something Manzoni was hoping would happen (the explosion, not the price increase).

Considering the price of the can and its low weight (30 grammes) it means that Tate Modern has paid around GBP 743/g. Just compare that with the price of gold. A spokesperson for Tate Modern justifies the buy with the fact that it was a small amount of money for a unique piece from a very important international artist. Oh how right on.

Naturally there have been protests from some backbenchers in the House of Commons, but I don't think that will have any lasting effect. Instead it just proves again that once you're a famous artist you cannot do anything to upset the establishment, since anything you do will be art. No matter how hard you try.


Sources include the tabloids The Sun and Aftonbladet.

The cans are labelled in several languages, with the primary text “Merda d’artista -- contenuto netto gr 30 conservata al naturale prodotta ed inscatolata nel maggio 1961”. This means something like "Artist's shit -- contains precisely 30 grams, naturally produced and conserved in May 1961."

At the time I write this, gold is trading for $11.11/gram. The Tate Modern paid 22,300 pounds for their can, which converts to $35,880 by today's exchange rates. This means that, as of today, Manzoni's shit is worth $1196/gram, or more than 100 times as much as gold.

Manzoni died in 1963 due to alcohol abuse. His intended satire has become example #1 in any argument over whether or not modern art is essentially nonsense.

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