My FB friend, Brian Howlett, poses the question:
"so... bottom line isn't fine art really a luxury item to be purchased, viewed and appreciated for the skill and intellect it represents ?"
Fine art may be a cultural luxury - or perhaps the definition of fine art simply changes as a culture evolves. Certainly owning it is a personal luxury - for all kinds of purposes - investment, status, aesthetics, patronage.
But I think at its core, fine art is about elevating our lives in a way that is not held down by convention and practicality. Its a way to step outside the demands of our life and see its beauty (or horror).