Heck, one of the points of Warhol's art was mass-producing screen prints, and people still pay a lot for an original, rather than a screenprinted reproduction.
If you are more curious about the contemporary art world market and why $29M is not that expensive, I recommend "The $12 Million Stuffed Shark: The Curious Economics of Contemporary Art".
In general, brand (in this case Christie's and Sotheby's) ranks supreme above all else. Once you are branded, you can pretty much sell anything as expensive art.
Also, an interesting factoid - when we hear of Far East/Middle East buyers bidding tens of millions (or more) for a painting, we naturally tend to think - who buys that without seeing it - but as the book points out - the painting has most likely gone to see the buyer already (e.g. Dubai/Hong Kong pre-auction private tour).
Excerpts from the book:
"Money itself has little meaning in the upper echelons of the art world -- everyone has it. What impresses is ownership of a rare and treasured work such as Jasper Johns' 1958 White Flag. The person who owns it (currently Michael Ovitz in Los Angeles) is above the art crowd, untouchable. What the rich seem to want to acquire is what economists call positional good; things that prove to the rest of the world that they really are rich."
Jasper Johns' White Flag
Estimates on the artist economy:
"40k artists resident in London (about same number in NYC)
For London and NYC each:
75 superstar artists (>$1M/yr income)
300 mature, successful artists (>$100k/yr income)
5,000 part time artists (need to supplement their income)"
 "If a great apartment costs $30 million, than a Rothko [big deal famous contemporary artist] that hangs in the featured spot in the living room can also be worth $30 million - as much as the value of the apartment. But no one could envision a $72.8 million apartment to use for comparison..."
A painting is probably a few hundred $ worth of materials perhaps a couple of hundred hours labour tops.
The average person probably wastes/consumes more rubbish in a week or two.
This is a rich person not consuming if anything.
I do get tired of the old insult to art that "I could do better" but for some reason that person has 'chosen' not to make millions and be famous.
People need to stop fearing things they don't or can't understand.
Apple memorabilia and items connected to Steve Jobs continue to be hot items, with a working model of the company's first computer selling at auction Friday for $374,500.
And it's ok not to understand things, but it's not ok to ridicule things just because you don't understand them.
It isn't much different in many other industries. The buyer /market sets the value, not those who aren't in the market.
What gives the appearance of some monopoly on genius to the sort of cultural output that is housed in museums and Lincoln Plaza and so on is just this: that brainless one-percenters are spending huge amounts of money to put their names on these monuments, and the brainless bourgeoisie makes pilgrimages to them, spending medium sums of money to have a brush with cultural objects that supposedly edify by their simple proximity. The illusion that genius is stored up in sites of high culture is sustained by capital and by the laziness and gullibility of culture's consumers: all the season-ticket holders, all the dupes of the museums' advertising departments, for their part driven ever further, under the compulsion of capital, to make the Ottoman sultan's throne, or medieval armor, or Greco-Bactrian statuary, look like so many things to buy-- passing them off as a special class of objects, museum objects, that you can buy in a way just by going and standing in front of them.