If we really wanted, we could intervene in the market and force a proportion of giddy prices such as these to be used to support the Picassos of tomorrow - or prevent them dying from starvation before they even get a chance to paint.
TJ I accept that the art world is conservative and that collectors don't take risks, and would add another problem: art made today slavishly reflects and flatters the taste of those who will buy it - artists are culpable here, supine when fortunes are waved in front of their faces.
I too am interested in what best supports art, but I don't accept your argument that these astronomical prices mean ordinary people feel art is out of their reach, or that it is not for them. That's not the case with Picasso, a painter who is both aesthetically significant and hugely popular, no matter how much his paintings fetch at auction. Great art speaks to everyone regardless of the astronomical price it fetches under the hammer.
The problem we are facing in supporting art is not the excesses of market, it is that our society finds it difficult to articulate the value of art beyond the financial. Rarely - if ever - do we hear a defence of art for art's sake or a discussion about the intrinsic value it holds. Significantly, this silence emanates from the cultural sector, which only champions culture as something that is good for the economy or for social instrumentalism. We cannot blame the art market and the super-rich for this broader and profound failing.