How One Art Collector Paid $18,300 For Nothing

There have been some rather wacky art collections over the years. Museums, curators, and collectors have displayed just about everything you can think of — from hundreds of human skulls (via The Mutter Museum) and vomiting fountains (via Bored Panda) to freeze-dried feces (via Time Out) and the world’s largest ball of twine (via XYU and Beyond). However, one conveniently anonymous art collector really upped the ante when he decided to fork over $18,300 worth of cash for a masterfully crafted sculpture of nothing.

Was it a scam? No. This anonymous art buyer (if he even exists) currently possesses a sculpture that most certainly does not exist.

It all started when Italian artist Salvatore Garau decided to create an invisible sculpture out of two distinct materials, “air and spirit” (via New York Post). Claiming that everything has a weight, including nothing, Salvatore proceeded to auction his invisible, nonexistent sculpture via auction house Art-Rite, where it was initially estimated to be worth somewhere between $7,000 and $11,000. Clearly, one buyer realized it was worth even more.

The piece, titled “Io Sono,” is the latest in Salvatore’s line of invisible sculptures. Other invisible works, like his “Buddha in Contemplation,” have been on display all over the world. Unlike its predecessor, which was clearly the cow eating grass that ate all the grass and then walked away, “lo Sono” does not consist of a blank canvas. It consists of no canvas and has been marketed as an “immaterial.”

In a shocking twist, another artist claims the invisible, nonexistent sculpture is stolen

If nothing else, stealing and then selling an invisible sculpture that doesn’t exist would have to make history as one of the greatest art heists of all time. It is right up there with sewing new clothes for the emperor. In fact, it almost feels like folklore.

But, according to Artnet, a Florida-based performance artist by the name of Tom Miller claims he was the first to erect an invisible sculpture and that he did so in 2016. The claim appears outrageous at first, but further digging reveals that Miller’s invisible installation, titled “Nothing,” was indeed put on display in the Bo Diddley Plaza in 2016 (via The Gainesville Sun).

Calling it the first ever 3D display of empty space, Miller encouraged his audience members to find creative ways to interact with the exhibit. He claimed that taking the time to marvel over absolutely nothing would offer a fresh perspective on the world. This has proved to be the case.

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