Re: What is success?
Successful could mean actually selling work, or selling at high prices, or getting critical acclaim, or technically proficient, or attracting attention, or seeing oneself as successful. Some enjoy - in every sense - the power to make others successful. I saw a documentary once about artists who were "dropped" - one was selling paintings in the 1980's for £75,000 a time, but when Saatchi sold off his paintings he sank like a stone, couldn't sell any more work. Terry Frost was another artist who was dropped by the galleries - saw that in a documentary, he described how the gallery owner rubbed salt in the wound by saying he'd never liked his work anyway - yet in his late 70's and 80's he came back into fashion and high prices.
The shark guy is a creation of Saatchi and the media, and as you probably know Saatchis' money comes from his advertising agency which helped sell, among other things, Margaret Thatcher.
I recall seeing a definition of an artist as someone who has something to say and the means to say it, so if my work says something to me perhaps it's successful.
NY has a high concentration of buyers and galleries, but so does London and many other major cities. I don't see NY having credibility anymore as the self-appointed postwar centre of the art world, perhaps the next global centre will be in China?
Did you know the CIA sponsored international touring exhibitions of Abstract Expressionism?