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There's a lot of talk lately in the financial press about ways to exploit inefficiencies in the art market. In just the past month, the Economist, Financial Times, WSJ and Conde Nast blogger Felix Salmon have all discussed the newest get-richer-quick hedge fund, the Art Trading Fund. Is this the end of the gallery/auction system of selling art, or just a weird, doomed blip in an overheated market? Our guess, at least in this incarnation, is the latter: ATF's top-listed team member is "established famous artist" and dealer Roy Petley (nice website, Roy — oh, and his gallery shows his own work, too, always a good sign). The idea appears to be to take undervalued, second tier "impressionist" work — these guys won't be sourcing any Rothkos or Klimts — and make a killing off it. The craziest part is how seriously the financial press takes this idea. Sure, there's probably money to be made, but not traditional pie in the sky hedge fund returns — and not through elegant algorithms either, but through good old blood, sweat and tears of selling art.

also by Rainey Knudson
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