What $450 million might have bought

Someone paid just $450 million for a da Vinci painting. OK, in principle it’s an investment. But basically it’s dramatic  conspicuous consumption by some oligarch or mogul who could have done something fundamentally more worthy with this money.  That same $450 million could have covered the World Health Organization’s TB, malaria, and reproductive maternal, newborn, child and adolescent programs for an entire year.

The only bright spot is that the payment is a pure transfer. I hope the seller picks this up.

Author: Harold Pollack

Harold Pollack is Helen Ross Professor of Social Service Administration at the University of Chicago. He has served on three expert committees of the National Academies of Science. His recent research appears in such journals as Addiction, Journal of the American Medical Association, and American Journal of Public Health. He writes regularly on HIV prevention, crime and drug policy, health reform, and disability policy for American Prospect, tnr.com, and other news outlets. His essay, "Lessons from an Emergency Room Nightmare" was selected for the collection The Best American Medical Writing, 2009. He recently participated, with zero critical acclaim, in the University of Chicago's annual Latke-Hamentaschen debate.

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