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The most my wife and I have ever paid for a vacuum cleaner is $142.99. We got it from Target. It’s a Bissell. A Bissell CleanView, to be specific, with “OnePass” technology, a turbo brush and five deep-cleaning settings.

I’ve never actually used the turbo brush, but you can tell by looking at that bad-boy accessory it’s all business. Dust bunnies don’t stand a chance. Not that we have dust bunnies, mind you, because we don’t. I’m sure they Peter Cottontail-ed their way out the door when the turbo brush showed up.

The best thing about of our Bissell, besides the sense of cleaning confidence it inspires with its powerful, multi-cyclonic system, is the price. At $142.99, it’s a bargain, especially when compared to Jeff Koons’ vacuum, which someone recently paid $4.4 million for at Sotheby’s.

Jeff Koons' vacuum cleaner art -- "New Hoover Convertibles, New Shelton Wet/Dry 10 Gallon Doubledecker" -- sold for $4.4 million at Sotheby's. 

Jeff Koons' vacuum cleaner art -- "New Hoover Convertibles, New Shelton Wet/Dry 10 Gallon Doubledecker" -- sold for $4.4 million at Sotheby's. 

Now granted, $4.4 million does seem a bit pricey for a vacuum. To be fair, Koons’ vacuum is “Art.” Ours is not. Our vacuum does not make a statement about the world we live in, nor is it groundbreaking. It does not “explore the way our desires and fantasies are manifested in everyday objects” as Koons’ art claims to do.

But it does have a turbo brush I’m going to use someday, and when I do – look out!

Also, to be fair, Koons’ vacuum art is really three vacuums – a Shelton Wet/Dry 10 Gallon Doubledecker atop two Hoover Convertibles – hermetically sealed in acrylic and awash in fluorescent lighting. Our Bissell is in the laundry room closet, which doesn’t have a light.

Jeff Koons’ vacuum art was part of the Macklowe Art Collection, a staggering 65-piece trove of masterpieces that sold during two separate auctions at Sotheby’s for a total of $922.2 million, making it one of the most valuable art collections in the world. Last November’s sale of 35 pieces realized $676.1 million while the May sale realized $246.1 million.

Harry and Linda Macklowe

Through nearly 60 years of marriage, Harry and Linda Macklowe accumulated an art collection worth $922.2 million. The couple is divorced now and their prized art collection is in the hands of other rich people.

The sale was the final play in a high-profile, rancorous divorce between Harry and Linda Macklowe, a couple of billionaire octogenarians who had been married nearly 60 years. The wrangling over how to divide the incredible wealth of Mr. Macklowe, a high-end real estate developer, and his ex-wife, a trustee of the Metropolitan Museum of Art and passionate modern art enthusiast, went on for years.

The art collection – which the judge presiding over the divorce described as “extraordinary” and “internationally renowned” – included works by Mark Rothko, Jackson Pollock, Andy Warhol, Pablo Picasso and, of course, Jeff Koons, the world-famous neo-pop artist who despite his celebrity would be little help around the house on cleaning day, unless you’re looking to have your mop hermetically sealed for display.

Jeff Koons Balloon Dog (Orange)

Jeff Koons' "Balloon Dog (Orange)" sold for $58.4 million at Christie's in 2013, the most expensive artwork by a living artist to sell at auction at the time. 

I’m not sure who pays $4.4 million for vacuum cleaner art, no matter how poignant it may be. And I’m not sure how one accumulates an art collection worth $922.2 million, but I have a good idea.

Forbes magazine estimates there are 735 billionaires in the United States. At the top of the list is Elon Musk, of Tesla fame, with an estimated net worth of $219 billion. Behind him are Amazon’s Jeff Bezos ($171 billion), Bill Gates ($129 billion), Warren Buffett ($118 billion), and a slew of other ultra-rich cats I’d wager haven’t vacuumed a living room in decades.

Elon Musk and mother Maye Musk

Elon Musk is not only a billionaire, he's a good son, taking his mom, Maye Musk, to the Met Gala in May  at The Metropolitan Museum in New York City.

Ten years ago, there were 424 billionaires in the U.S. Ten years before that, there were 243. In 1982, when Forbes first put together its list of the 400 wealthiest people in America, Daniel K. Ludwig, a shipping magnate, topped the list with an estimated $2 billion.

So, it seems, the rich get richer. Nothing terribly new there. As for the rest of us? Well, it’s important to remember that money – even crazy money that can amass an art collection worth $922.2 million – can’t buy you everything. Love and happiness being prime examples of that.

Besides, come Sunday afternoon, the traditional cleaning day in our household, when we reach for the Bissell CleanView vacuum cleaner in the laundry room closet, we don’t have to break a hermetically sealed acrylic case first.

That’s the good news.

The bad news? 

I still have to shake the rugs.


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