Friday, September 9, 2011

Contemporary Art Prices

How is contemporary art priced ? It seems it has nothing to do with cost since the oil, canvas and materials utilized do not exceed a fraction of the price for which these pieces are sold for.  The price is not based on time either; some paintings/sculptures take 3 - 4 hours others 3 months. 

This market is priced by dealers.  They will price work according to its size and the reputation of the artist.  The reputation of the dealer as well as the status of the client is all taken into account to place a numerical value on art.  A new artist's work will be priced according to the dealers reputation therefore a mainstream gallery will price an artist with no history at about $5000 - $10,000.  This builds trust between dealer and client.  From this point on the dealer will increase art prices to build an illusion of success.

To invest in the art world it is always good to be well informed.  Just like investing in stocks it is good to diversify by buying several art pieces instead of putting all your money on one artist and one painting.  Here is a helpful link to check auction prices:

While a Picasso or Monet may be sound investments there is little room for greater appreciation compared to a new up and coming artist.  According to a professor of economics David Galenson the most valuable artwork is created at the beginning or at the very end of a successful artist's career.

Some people claim that contemporary art is a better way to create wealth in comparison to investing in stocks, gold or governmental bonds.  They base this on the Mei/Moses art index  The problem is that the index has a few flaws one being it does not take taxation into consideration. 

One interesting point by Mei/Moses is that financial markets and art markets do not move in unison.  When stock markets crash investors liquidate their stocks and invest in museum quality art.

Here are a few facts from art experts:

A portrait of an attractive woman will appreciate better

Colors that sell most are red,white and blue least saleable colors green and black

Pale colors don't sell as well as bright colors

Nudity seems to sell more than modesty

Paintings with cows don't do well

Roses sell better than other flowers

When it comes to superstar artists some of these rules can be broken

Art Pricing Game: See if you can accurately guess what these artworks sold for click on link for answers

Small Torn Campbell's Soup Can - Andy Warhol

A. $250,000
B. $1,575,000
C. $11,776,000

White Center (Yellow, Pink and Lavender on Rose) - Mark Rothko

A. $11.5 million
B. $72.84 million
C. $84.52 million

Bloodline The Family No.3 - Zhang Xiaogang

A. $500,000
B. $4,760,000
C. $6,083,363

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