Anti-Cuts Activists Disrupt Sotheby’s Contemporary Art Auction

LONDON – Over 100 anti-cuts activists disrupted Sotheby’s Contemporary Art auction in London this evening in protest against banker bonuses and funding cuts to public services and the arts. A dozen protestors inside the auction rooms staged a loud protest by mimicking sexual noises, fainting and setting off personal alarms in what they termed the “Orgy of the Rich”.

A corresponding protest outside featured performers staging a mock auction selling off public services such as education, libraries and the NHS.

“We are here to expose the orgy of the rich that the Sotheby’s auctions represent,” says one of the protestors inside the auction rooms. “The super rich, bankers and collectors who buy this art exist in an international bubble of their own and don’t seem at all affected by the so-called ‘austerity’ of the government. They commodify creativity and Sotheby’s helps them ferret away their goods by offering creative accounting services such as ‘obtaining conditional exemption’.

The Sotheby’s Contemporary Art auction features secondary market artworks expected to fetch upwards of £30million. Pieces from Gerhard Richter, Andy Warhol ad David Hockney were among the works on offer to the highest bidder. ‘Most of these works will end up in the hands of private collectors or used as tax havens, while vital public provisions such as Education and Health Care, get the shaft’ says a protestor.

‘This evening’s take of 30 million pounds would pay the annual salary of 1389 new teachers, 1765 qualified nurses or the budget of 150 libraries for a year.’

The organisers of the demonstration are from a broad coalition of artists, students, public servants and creative workers formed in 2010 in reaction to the coalition government’s announcement that the arts and educational institutions will have to produce more on a lot less.

In their words ‘We are fighting back against the most aggressive attacks on the public sector in living memory. We are in solidarity with the other sectors fighting against cuts and openly welcome co-ordinated creative action to oppose the selling off of our public services, the demise of the welfare state, the speculative valuation of art and the orgy of the rich.’