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

  • 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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