Updated: Apr 20, 2020
I have always heard the phrase business is sport. Mark Cuban is famous coining the idea that Basketball is a sixty-minute game, but business is 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year. In recent years, the sport of business and the arts has become a rigged game; more of a W.W.E. spectacle than true competition. We who can’t afford to play watch as bidders war and eventually one is victorious with the high bid. It may seem like we are witnessing a chess match of bids amongst a field of competitors.
The extremely high priced realm of fine art dealings is able to set their own prices and cherry pic the market.
He who controls the supply and experiences any demand is able to set the price. I am no economist, but I believe that market should be based on public opinion and the demand that amounts to.
Works of art, being both subjective and limited, are inherently hard to place value on. Hence the common phrase art is worth what someone is willing to pay for it. This willingness to pay is a skewed variable in today’s market. You see art has this weird quality to always gains value. Initial sale price plus value added for age. This makes it a very appealing investment for the super wealthy. One could argue that those purchasing these super high priced canvases could care less about the art. Rather they are taking into consideration return on investment. In other terms the merit of the work get transferred from public opinion to the chosen few galleries. They decide what is deemed “valuable” place an astronomical price on said item. The bidders are honestly willing to pay any amount of money they can because it is a guaranteed good investment. Even crazier is the ramifications of the sale. Once a work is purchased and put in the new owners safe like a brick of gold, the entire catalogue of work sees an increase in value siting the recent purchase. Of course that catalogue is either owned by the selling gallery or sometimes the same buyer. Simply put a gallery has the power to set a price for one work and in doing so increase the value of the rest of their own inventory. This is a huge problem for the advancement/ emergence of new artists attempting to price their work.