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Paintings and numbers: an econometric investigation of sales rates, prices, and returns in Latin American art auctions

Listed author(s):
  • Nauro F. Campos
  • Renata Leite Barbosa

This paper uses a unique data set of Latin American paintings auctioned by Sotheby's between 1995 and 2002 to investigate several puzzles from the recent auctions literature. Our results suggest that: (i) the reputation of an artist and the provenance of the artwork, often omitted variables in previous studies, seem to be more important determinants of the sale price of a painting than more standard factors, such as medium and size, (ii) the opinion of art experts seems to be of limited use in predicting whether or not an artwork sells at auction, (iii) there is little supporting evidence for the widespread notion that the best or more expensive artworks tend to generate above average returns (the masterpiece effect), although (iv) there is strong evidence in our data for the declining price anomaly or afternoon effect (that is, when heterogeneous products sold sequentially follow a decreasing pattern of prices.) Copyright 2009 , Oxford University Press.

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File URL: http://hdl.handle.net/10.1093/oep/gpn020
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Article provided by Oxford University Press in its journal Oxford Economic Papers.

Volume (Year): 61 (2009)
Issue (Month): 1 (January)
Pages: 28-51

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Handle: RePEc:oup:oxecpp:v:61:y:2009:i:1:p:28-51
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  1. Susanne Schönfeld & Andreas Reinstaller, 2007. "The effects of gallery and artist reputation on prices in the primary market for art: a note," Journal of Cultural Economics, Springer;The Association for Cultural Economics International, vol. 31(2), pages 143-153, June.
  2. O. Chanel & L. A. Gerard-Varet & V. Ginsburgh, 1994. "Prices and Returns on Paintings: An Exercise on How to Price the Priceless," The Geneva Risk and Insurance Review, Palgrave Macmillan;International Association for the Study of Insurance Economics (The Geneva Association), vol. 19(1), pages 7-21, June.
  3. Goetzmann, William N, 1993. "Accounting for Taste: Art and the Financial Markets over Three Centuries," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 83(5), pages 1370-1376, December.
  4. Frey, Bruno S. & Eichenberger, Reiner, 1995. "On the rate of return in the art market: Survey and evaluation," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 39(3-4), pages 528-537, April.
  5. Victor Ginsburgh & David Throsby, 2006. "Handbook of the Eonomics of Art and Culture," ULB Institutional Repository 2013/152412, ULB -- Universite Libre de Bruxelles.
  6. Ashenfelter, Orley, 1989. "How Auctions Work for Wine and Art," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 3(3), pages 23-36, Summer.
  7. Alan Beggs & Kathryn Graddy, 1997. "Declining Values and the Afternoon Effect: Evidence from Art Auctions," RAND Journal of Economics, The RAND Corporation, vol. 28(3), pages 544-565, Autumn.
  8. Ginsburgh, Victor & Mei, Jianping & Moses, Michael, 2006. "The Computation of Prices Indices," Handbook of the Economics of Art and Culture, Elsevier.
  9. Throsby, David, 1994. "The Production and Consumption of the Arts: A View of Cultural Economics," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 32(1), pages 1-29, March.
  10. repec:adr:anecst:y:1994:i:35 is not listed on IDEAS
  11. Robert Ekelund & Rand Ressler & John Watson, 1998. "Estimates, Bias and “No Sales” in Latin-American Art Auctions, 1977–1996," Journal of Cultural Economics, Springer;The Association for Cultural Economics International, vol. 22(1), pages 33-42, March.
  12. Madeleine De La Barre & Sophie Docclo & Victor Ginsburgh, 1994. "Returns of Impressionist, Modern and Contemporary European Paintings 1962-1991," Annals of Economics and Statistics, GENES, issue 35, pages 143-181.
  13. Orley Ashenfelter & Kathryn Graddy, 2003. "Auctions and the Price of Art," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 41(3), pages 763-787, September.
  14. Charles R. Hulten, 2003. "Price hedonics: a critical review," Economic Policy Review, Federal Reserve Bank of New York, issue Sep, pages 5-15.
  15. Rosen, Sherwin, 1974. "Hedonic Prices and Implicit Markets: Product Differentiation in Pure Competition," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 82(1), pages 34-55, Jan.-Feb..
  16. Sebastian Edwards, 2004. "The Economics of Latin American Art: Creativity Patterns and Rates of Return," NBER Working Papers 10302, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  17. Paul Klemperer, 2004. "Auctions: Theory and Practice," Online economics textbooks, SUNY-Oswego, Department of Economics, number auction1.
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