Wednesday, March 9th, 2011

The price of Clapton’s magic

A couple of days ago I mused about our desire for unique objects. I pointed to research suggesting that our motivations aren’t merely market driven. It’s not just about rationally assessing the object’s resale value.

A story in today’s New York Times underscores just how irrational our desire for certain unique goods is. Guitar aficionados are not only willing to pay $1 million for a guitar owned and played by Eric Clapton. They are willing to pay $20,000 to own a fake copy of that same guitar. What’s worth so much? Clapton’s magic:

“Cultural practices such as burning voodoo dolls to harm one’s enemies are consistent with a belief in the law of similarity,” Dr. Newman said. “An identical Clapton guitar replica with all of the dents and scratches may serve as such a close proxy to Clapton’s original guitar that it is in some way confused for the real thing. Of course, the replica is worth far less than the actual guitar that he played, but it still appears to be getting a significant amount of value for its similarity.”

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