What If You Don't Feel Valued?

For 40 years Wolfgang Beltracchi amassed millions in the art world. In 3 days time, he could paint a piece that would sell for $5 Million on the market. He claims to be one of the most exhibited artists in the world, and you can see his work in Museums in New York and houses of the wealthy.

Have you ever heard of him?

He goes by the name Bellini, Leonardo, Rembrandt, Max Ernst…

You see for 40 years, he created fakes and replicas. He imagined what these painters would have created, painted it, and then sold them all as “ long lost pieces” by these famous artists. He’d buy old canvases dated from the time of these painters, use ancient paints, old box cameras, and antique types of brushes. 

Then, finally, a whole team of forensic analysts noticed a mistake by Beltracchi. He had used the wrong historical pigment of white in one of his paintings. He was busted, out in the open. This ROCKED the art world. What paintings were real and not replicas? All these art experts had advised for people’s purchases of “originals” for millions of dollars. None were to be trusted. 

So these paintings went from millions to maybe hundreds overnight. But why? The name? The story? The truth? 

I find value to be an interesting human phenomenon. 

We make value decisions every day.

How much is coke (acola) worth to you? $1.50? What about at a hotel mini bar? Or In the desert? In this case value is is derived from our context.

How about a song? Well on iTunes they’re 0.99 cents. Whether your paying for Justin Beiber, Rebecca Black, or the Beatles, any song is just 99 cents. In this case value is whatever Apple and the masses democratize it to be.

And a book? Charles Dickens to Tollstoy, all cost the roughly the same as Captain Underpants. Roughly the $12 to print the thing. However Dickens’ original copy of A Tale of Two Cities, now that’s valueable. In this case it’s scarcity that we value. The words are no different from one copy to another. We simply pay for printing costs not eloquence and imagination, just as people didn’t value the beautiful brush strokes of Beltracchi or how his paintings had made them feel.

Value is in flux, value is perceived, value is the story we tell ourselves. 

And most of all, value is scarcity.

When you think about it this way, it makes you rethink work. It makes you rethink your own value.

How much value do you have? 

This, too, is likely chosen by the masses and democratized. This is in flux. This is based on context and scarcity. 

This is good news.

I think you’re massively undervaluing yourself.

If your value has been democratized by society because of your category (student, senior, male, female…), don’t accept the value you’ve been assigned. 

I’d bet a million bucks on a dropout hippy named Steve Jobs if I could have. Colonel Sanders started the KFC franchise when he was 62, a time when most his age were off to retirement.

How scarce is the work that you do? If you’re only doing what everyone else is around you, it’s probably not valued. Doing the risky and staying away from a standard path is a must. This means doing work that people don’t want or are scared to do. Make yourself scarce and people will perceive you differently.

What context is your value proposition in? For me, as a recent graduate, I find my contextual value to a would-be employer to be small. But online, I don’t have to start at the bottom rung and slowly crawl to the top. No one knows my age or my work experience, and I can have infinite value.

People look at Wolfgang Beltracchi and many seem him as criminal. But what he knew was that he could create with the best of them, but the art critics were gatekeepers that wouldn’t let him in to gaining the value he deserved.

Use the arbitrary nature of value to your advantage to create to your fullest potential.

Why not go over their heads? Why not get exposure for your art?

CultureDavid Sherry