The Great Contemporary Art Bubble DVD

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I have DVDs of the extended 90-minute version of my documentary “The Great Contemporary Art Bubble” for sale. Recommended Retail Price £19.99 – but available from my website for only £11.99, (approximately €15 or USA $19) each. Payment is via Paypal, though you can pay with all major credit cards too.

We have Region 1 (US, Canada) and Region 2 (Europe) versions.

On September 15th 2008, the day of the the collapse of Lehmans, the worst financial news since 1929, Damien Hirst sold over £60 million of his art, in an auction at Sotheby’s that would total £111 million over two days. It was the peak of the contemporary art bubble, the greatest rise in the financial value of art in the history of the world. One art critic and film-maker was banned by Sotheby’s and Hirst from attending this historic auction: Ben Lewis.

He had spent the whole of 2008 making a documentary investigating the reasons behind the booming contemporary art market, and they didn’t like what he was finding out… Art critic and film-maker Ben Lewis spent over a year investigating this contemporary art bubble in Europe, America and China and discovered a world of secretive deals, speculation, tax breaks and market manipulation that involved the whole art world – dealers, collectors, galleries, auction houses and even public museums. In the climax of the film, his discoveries lead him to play his own small secret part in the bursting of the contemporary art bubble. Includings interviews with leading dealers, gallerists, auction house specialists, artists and financial analysts.
Shown at the Montreal Film Festival, Vancouver Film Festival, San Francisco Documentary Festival and Tel Aviv Art Film Festival.

DVD Aspect ratio 16:9 Stereo Duration 90 min Language: English Release Date: 2009 © 2009

Showing 16 comments
  • Themba Mabona

    Hi Ben,

    this is themba, a disconsolate writer, typing all the way from switzerland. I just wanted quickly to let you know that I thought your documentary is amazing! I loved how you actually confronted the dealers on a 1-on-1 basis and unveiled the whole tax-escape-scheme. It’s informative and important to understand that, while these types of people might do badly f-ed up things, they can still be perfectly fine human beings.
    I just visited the art basel earlier this summer and jotted down a few notes for a piece of mine, one of them read “Is art tax deductible?”…well, that’s been answered and more in a most enlightening way.
    It amazes me how the actual, physical art goods (or bads) operate in two such completely disparate spheres: that of aesthetic appreciation and that of global commodification…ok, ok, ok, let me not neglect critical media scrutiny;)
    I think perhaps you could also have let that kind of juxtaposition or whatever you want to call it come a bit more to the fore in the flic. Anyways, great work and I hope you keep it up.

    greetz from lucerne, themba

    p.s.: i was shocked to see no comments thus far, but i have a blog, so i know how that goes….
    p.p.s.: i got susan sontag sitting on my shelf, and badiou… anybody else i should definitely read?
    p.p.p.s: if you’ve got the slightest tip on me landing a j-o-b in l-o-n-d-o-n that is much appreciated 😉

  • deorner

    the artlout magazine write about you and i’ve seen the movie yesterday and i must say, i’m very confused.

  • francisco q.

    hi ben!
    I’d really like to buy you doc but my paypal account is not accepting your email, any ideas?
    good luck with your upcoming screenings!

  • Kate


    Caught most of your show last night on ABC 2. Was hooked.
    As an Art Teacher at Secondary School I am desperate to show it to my students but am concerned about te region issue on the DVD. I have a feeling Australia is Region 4? Can you confirm that please.


    Great work keep it up.

  • elena

    saw the doc via spain´s public tv station….wonderful job….clap, clap, clap

  • artemister

    Watched this on ABC1, yesterday arvo, and enjoyed it.

    The apartment in New York, where you spent the most time. It looks like a great space for kids, with lots of colours and shapes – a rich kid’s play space :p

    I liked the car, a lot.

  • Marie-Eve and Jean-Pierre

    Hi Ben,

    I just ordered two “Art Bubble” DVDs for Xmas…

    We are in the art business in France and very much concerned with the “gangsterization” of the world art market.

    Of course we had no illusions, but it’s such a relief to find out that someone – YOU ! – eventually had the guts to speak and tell the truth.

    Speculation is far from being a new game and I personally don’t care if some people are making a lot of money by speculating with so-called art.

    We were in Venice lately and almost cried with despair when we visited Mr. Pinaut’s foundation, both on the Grand Canal and at La punta della Dogana. Is that what Art is about ?

    Our real concern is : who pays for all those shits in PUBLIC museums worldwide ? We all do, don’t we, through our income taxes, whether we like it or not ! This is not acceptable.

    Thanks Ben for comforting us in our belief that in a hundred years from now, all this rubbish will have VANISHED because the world has to change or there will be no world anymore.

    Marie-Eve and Jean-Pierre from France

  • theresa

    Hi Ben, I’m doing an analysis of your documentary for the university. I have the german version (i live in Berlin but it still complicated since I’m brazilian). Do you have spanish subtitles on it? Because if it is a yes, I buy it this week! 🙂

  • Sehngtian Zheng

    Hi Ben:

    I missed the screening of your documentary at Vancouver Film Festival last year. I watched it on line and was very pleased that how clear the picture you made of the art market. I am an editor and founder of Yishu –Journal of Contemporary Chinese Art ( In last few decades I have worked with artists, scholars, collectors (very few) and dealers to introduce and promote Chinese contemporary art to the world. But after the Sotheby’s auction in May, 2006, I suddenly felt this world became strange and very remote to me.

    I think it would be great if this documentary has Chinese subtitle or dubbing. It could be shown in China, Hong Kong and Taiwan where millions of people still believe in bubbles.


  • Mary Lee Guthrie

    Thanks Ben and Team,

    I feel absolutely revived by the good humor, courage of clear thinking and ready articulateness that make the Bubble shine.

    Ah, and then to have the pleasure of these same qualities appearing in your responses to questions from the Palm Springs Film Festival audience…..

    Hope a Region 1 NTSC version DVD will be available soon.

    Congratulations and thanks.

    Mary Lee Guthrie

  • Betsy

    Just saw the film at Palm Springs. Thanks for exposing the tax advantage part of the puzzle. Cheers for the woman at “Art News” (or whatever it’s called) for exposing the inventory at White Cube. Loved the film and hope you’ll produce a DVD for us Yanks.

  • hanna hoyne

    Dear Ben,

    Im a sculptor and performance artist from Australia and I loved the contemporary art detective story so much I am going to show it to my class of art and politics students!! Wish you could visit us in sleepy canberra!!

  • lydie Gardet- responsable du centre d'Art-ville de Nouméa

    I would like to know if you have a french version or with translate? We are a french Art center in the Sud pacific

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