Sculptor, Market-Mover Needs Dylan Record Badly

Tim Davis, an artist who teaches at Bard College in upstate New York, wanted to sculpt a life-size self-portrait out of album covers of Bob Dylan’s Self Portrait.

But he’s been having trouble getting enough copies, as explained in an e-mail note he sent along to friends: “I’ve been buying them on eBay, but have artificially driven up the price by buying so many.”

DylanSelfPortrait

As of this writing, an eBay search for “dylan self portrait” reveals a scarcity problem (there are only three vinyl records for sale), but the most expensive record is only $6.95, so I don’t know how much Davis has really driven up the price — artificially or otherwise. Also, he says he is willing to pay up to $10 for a copy. He is actually looking for the record cover, with or without the vinyl LP’s.

So if you have a copy of Self Portrait lying around (although I am a Dylan fan, I think “lying around” is exactly the right place to keep Self Portrait), and want to contribute to the sake of art, here’s where to send your offering:

Tim Davis
101 North Road
Tivoli, NY 12583
tdavis@bard.edu

I will be interested to see if Davis sells his work eventually, and if its cumulative value is greater than the value of all the records he had to buy.


furiousball

"Someday, everything is gonna be smooth like a rhapsody
When I paint my masterpiece."

JordanO

"artificially driven up the price"?

When buying every copy that surfaces on eBay and making it known that you are price-insensitive (at least relative to the average person interested in a copy of "Self Portrait"), a price increase seems to me to be pretty natural.

KingRat

He should send a letter to the Burea of Economic Analysis and make sure that his value added is included in their GDP calculation.

kathylisson

It would be interesting to see if he could utilize craigslist and Dylan-specific music websites to ask Dylan Lovers to donate their album covers to him. Tickets to the opening night celebration of the sculpture's exhibition or an autographed photo of the sculpture could be a thank you gift.
Getting the right people to believe and invest in your story is more valuable than shelling out ten dollar bills over e-bay.

kentavos

Ho many does he need? I don't have one, but I'm curious as to how much impact he'll actually have.

matnewton

Nice one Dubner, you have just exploded the eBay market for Self Portrait.

Hmm, my mind is ticking over...

While Tim Davis may not receive that many 'gift' copies, it's possible that this article will create an artificial spike in demand on eBay for that album.

This will cause sellers to purchase more to meet demand, creating an over-supply once the spike dies down and therbey giving Tim access to a large quantity of Bob Dylan albums at cheap prices.

An unlikely but happy scenario.

lermit

Good of you to put that up. Bet you there are a few more left over there.

.lermit

RandyfromCanada

does this mean if l am looking for something on e-bay l should write u 1st ?

slowwwwwww dayyyyyyyy

egretman

I'm with Kentavos here. How many does he need?

When I first read this, my mind somehow interpreted "life size" into a full body giant mural on the side of some enormous structure with each album cover being one pixel out of many hundreds.

After the psyliciban wore off, I realized "life size" doesn't have to be quite so big.

So what's the problem?

lermit

"and oh an English song" -The Libertines, "Albion"

.lermit

eric01001

My first reaction to this post: "Self Portrait" is undoubtedly Dylan's worst Record. Of course he can't find it. Who would buy that crap?

But then a quick internet search revealed "Self Portrait" actually went gold.

http://web.utk.edu/~wparr/jatkoamersales.html

So now I have this mental image of thousands of Dylan fans in 1970, eagerly cradling their new vinyl on their way home from the record store, gently placing the needle in the groove, and then destroying the record with disgust halfway through the first listen and lighting the sleeve on fire in protest. Frankly, the art makes me nauseated anyway.

And yeah, I'm a huge Dylan fan. Just, well, self portrait is bad.

Kent

I think this was Dylan's worst record. Not bad overall. But not up to the standards of his other music.

ctomsons

I don't know how else to pass this along, so I thought I'd deliver this via comments. Chris at Mixing Memory has an excellent post on the name-letter effect, in response to the paper "Why Susie Sells Seashells by the Seashore: Implicit Egotism and Major Life Decisions". A link to the paper is available, as is a good bibliography.

marshall2007

Dylan sings 'Bird on the horizon, sitting on a fence. He's singing a song for me, at his own expense...' in the beautiful 'Youre a big girl now'.

But has the bird in question considered the economic ramifications of offering his unique services free of charge?

Was Bob the original freakonomist? We'll probably never know.

Though I suspect the man himself would simply say, 'I'm just a song and dance man'

lermit

Do birds have free will? Well, they DO fly!

Oh what an art. Beats interest rate determination to me.

.lermit

furiousball

"Someday, everything is gonna be smooth like a rhapsody
When I paint my masterpiece."

JordanO

"artificially driven up the price"?

When buying every copy that surfaces on eBay and making it known that you are price-insensitive (at least relative to the average person interested in a copy of "Self Portrait"), a price increase seems to me to be pretty natural.

KingRat

He should send a letter to the Burea of Economic Analysis and make sure that his value added is included in their GDP calculation.

kathylisson

It would be interesting to see if he could utilize craigslist and Dylan-specific music websites to ask Dylan Lovers to donate their album covers to him. Tickets to the opening night celebration of the sculpture's exhibition or an autographed photo of the sculpture could be a thank you gift.
Getting the right people to believe and invest in your story is more valuable than shelling out ten dollar bills over e-bay.

kentavos

Ho many does he need? I don't have one, but I'm curious as to how much impact he'll actually have.