Theory of an art market scandal: artistic integrity and financial speculation in the Inigo Philbrick case

Amy Whitaker, Fiona Greenland

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Focusing on the case of Inigo Philbrick and his alleged fraudulent overselling of artworks by Rudolf Stingel, we offer a new theory of art market scandal that builds upon Alexander’s framework of the pure and impure, and Adut’s concept of transgressive publicity. We argue that the presence of an art market creates latent impurity, according to the Hostile Worlds conception of markets as an impurification of art. The further financialization of an artwork into shares redoubles money’s impurification of art by creating what we term a financial simulacrum. Philbrick’s case allows us to expand Adut’s theory from mapping an art scandal of moral decency to conceptualizing an art market scandal of financial transgression. We argue that financial transgression—as enabled by the increased securitization of art—depends on the persona of the art dealer as intermediary, a projection that is itself a simulacrum. Thus, we frame Philbrick archetypally as hydroponic, validated, novel yet neutral, and self-pardoning. Drawing on interviews of expert insiders and close reading of court documents and press articles, we contribute a model of art market scandal that encompasses the dual artistic and financial nature of traded artworks and the shared art-industry risk of regulation.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)225-247
Number of pages23
JournalAmerican Journal of Cultural Sociology
Issue number2
StatePublished - Jun 2022


  • Art market
  • Financialization
  • Inigo Philbrick
  • Rudolf Stingel
  • Scandal
  • Simulacrum

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Sociology and Political Science


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