Saturday, June 24, 2006


We All Make Mistakes---Part II

On to the second Friday NY Times blooper. (Scroll down to Part I, if you missed the first.)

In her Inside Art report on the National Gallery's upcoming Jasper Johns show, Carol Vogel said that curator Jeffrey Weiss "estimated insurance costs for the show at about $1 billion."

The National Gallery must be one rich museum!

Perhaps she (and Weiss) meant that the insured value of the works in the show is about $1 billion, which is astronomical enough. The actual cost of the insurance must be a small fraction of that. At least we hope so.

The problem is that the eyes of arts editors often glaze over when it comes to mundane financial matters. I know this from my own experience in laboring to explain some of my business-related reportage to culture-savvy editors.

And art writers themselves sometimes don't realize that seemingly small nuances (i.e., "insurance costs" vs. "insured value") mean a lot. One of my own biggest bloopers as a newly minted reporter was saying that collectors could deduct the full fair market value of donated art from their "taxes," when it should have been from their "taxable income." A tax credit (deducted from taxes) is worth a whole lot more than a tax deduction (deducted from taxable income).

Have I finally gotten that right?!? Writing a journalistic blog without an editor is like walking a tightrope without a net!

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