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Art Auctions

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  • Graddy, Kathryn

Abstract

This paper contains a new review of the research of the last decade that has been designed to shed light on how the art auction system works, what it indicates about price formation, and how well it performs. We begin with a short description of the mechanics of the auction system and then organize the remainder of our discussion around two major topics. The first topic concerns how researchers have used auction prices. We begin by discussing the returns to holding art and whether certain classes of art make a better investment. We then discuss studies that have used auction prices to determine the importance of individual works of art and individual artists. We conclude this topic by discussing whether different auction houses achieve systematically different prices. The second topic focuses on studies that examine the influence of the auction mechanism on prices. We begin with a discussion of the Christie's and Sotheby's price fixing case and the role of the competitive behavior of auction houses in the determination of prices. We move on to discuss the role of experts and price estimates in auctions. We then look at whether items that fail at auction subsequently return less than items that have not failed and furthermore discuss sale rates and reserve prices. We conclude this topic by reviewing the extensive literature that has documented and tried to explain why the prices of identical objects are more likely to decline than to increase when multiple units are sold. Subsequent empirical research has tended to document declining prices even when the objects are imperfect substitutes.

Suggested Citation

  • Graddy, Kathryn, 2006. "Art Auctions," Handbook of the Economics of Art and Culture, Elsevier.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:artchp:1-26
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    File URL: http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/B7P5G-4KV3VPW-11/2/4e1f1c3ffe5cd75d76c89b5c0a688a27
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    Other versions of this item:

    • Orley Ashenfelter & Kathryn Graddy, 2011. "Art Auctions," Chapters,in: A Handbook of Cultural Economics, Second Edition, chapter 2 Edward Elgar Publishing.
    • Orley Ashenfelter & Kathryn Graddy, 2010. "Art Auctions," Working Papers 1212, Princeton University, Department of Economics, Center for Economic Policy Studies..

    References listed on IDEAS

    as
    1. Milgrom, Paul, 1989. "Auctions and Bidding: A Primer," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 3(3), pages 3-22, Summer.
    2. Ashenfelter, Orley & Genesove, David, 1992. "Testing for Price Anomalies in Real-Estate Auctions," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 82(2), pages 501-505, May.
    3. Mortensen, Dale T, 1970. "Job Search, the Duration of Unemployment, and the Phillips Curve," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 60(5), pages 847-862, December.
    4. Ashenfelter, Orley, 1989. "How Auctions Work for Wine and Art," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 3(3), pages 23-36, Summer.
    5. 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.
    6. Alan Beggs & Kathryn Graddy, 2008. "Failure to meet the reserve price: the impact on returns to art," Journal of Cultural Economics, Springer;The Association for Cultural Economics International, vol. 32(4), pages 301-320, December.
    7. Graham, Daniel A & Marshall, Robert C, 1987. "Collusive Bidder Behavior at Single-Object Second-Price and English Auctions," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 95(6), pages 1217-1239, December.
    8. 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.
    9. Jianping Mei & Michael Moses, 2005. "Vested Interest and Biased Price Estimates: Evidence from an Auction Market," Journal of Finance, American Finance Association, vol. 60(5), pages 2409-2435, October.
    10. Maskin, Eric S & Riley, John G, 1984. "Optimal Auctions with Risk Averse Buyers," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 52(6), pages 1473-1518, November.
    Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)

    Citations

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    Cited by:

    1. Alan Beggs & Kathryn Graddy, 2008. "Failure to meet the reserve price: the impact on returns to art," Journal of Cultural Economics, Springer;The Association for Cultural Economics International, vol. 32(4), pages 301-320, December.
    2. William N. Goetzmann & Luc Renneboog & Christophe Spaenjers, 2011. "Art and Money," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 101(3), pages 222-226, May.
    3. Jofre-Bonet, Mireia & Pesendorfer, Martin, 2014. "Optimal sequential auctions," International Journal of Industrial Organization, Elsevier, vol. 33(C), pages 61-71.
    4. Orley Ashenfelter & Kathryn Graddy, 2002. "Art Auctions: A Survey of Empirical Studies," Working Papers 121, Princeton University, Department of Economics, Center for Economic Policy Studies..
    5. Frey, Bruno S. & Gallus, Jana, 2014. "Aggregate effects of behavioral anomalies: A new research area," Economics - The Open-Access, Open-Assessment E-Journal, Kiel Institute for the World Economy (IfW), vol. 8, pages 1-15.
    6. Michael Beckmann, 2004. "Art Auctions and Bidding Rings: Empirical Evidence from German Auction Data," Journal of Cultural Economics, Springer;The Association for Cultural Economics International, vol. 28(2), pages 125-141, May.
    7. Itaya, Jun-ichi & Ursprung, Heinrich W., 2016. "Price and death: modeling the death effect in art price formation," Research in Economics, Elsevier, vol. 70(3), pages 431-445.
    8. Hellmanzik, Christiane, 2013. "Democracy and economic outcomes: Evidence from the superstars of modern art," European Journal of Political Economy, Elsevier, vol. 30(C), pages 58-69.
    9. Calin Valsan & Robert Sproule, 2008. "Reservation Prices And Pre-Auction Estimates: A Study In Abstract Art," The AMFITEATRU ECONOMIC journal, Academy of Economic Studies - Bucharest, Romania, vol. 10(24), pages 257-272, June.
    10. Dakshina Garfield De Silva & Marina Gertsberg & Georgia Kosmopoulou & Rachel Pownall, 2017. "Dealer Networks in the World of Art," Working Papers 198144199, Lancaster University Management School, Economics Department.
    11. Seaman, Bruce A., 2009. "Cultural Economics: The State of the Art and Perspectives/Economía de la cultura: estado del arte y perspectivas," Estudios de Economía Aplicada, Estudios de Economía Aplicada, vol. 27, pages 7-32, Abril.
    12. Jianping Mei & Michael Moses, 2002. "Art as an Investment and the Underperformance of Masterpieces," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 92(5), pages 1656-1668, December.
    13. Christiane Hellmanzik, 2009. "Artistic styles: revisiting the analysis of modern artists’ careers," Journal of Cultural Economics, Springer;The Association for Cultural Economics International, vol. 33(3), pages 201-232, August.
    14. Hellmanzik, Christiane, 2016. "Historic art exhibitions and modern - day auction results," Research in Economics, Elsevier, vol. 70(3), pages 421-430.
    15. Reto Cueni & Bruno S. Frey, 2014. "Forecasts and Reactivity," CREMA Working Paper Series 2014-10, Center for Research in Economics, Management and the Arts (CREMA).
    16. 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.
    17. Michael Hutter & Christian Knebel & Gunnar Pietzner & Maren Schäfer, 2007. "Two games in town: a comparison of dealer and auction prices in contemporary visual arts markets," Journal of Cultural Economics, Springer;The Association for Cultural Economics International, vol. 31(4), pages 247-261, December.
    18. Hellmanzik, Christiane, 2010. "Location matters: Estimating cluster premiums for prominent modern artists," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 54(2), pages 199-218, February.
    19. Penasse, J.N.G. & Renneboog, L.D.R., 2014. "Bubbles and Trading Frenzies : Evidence from the Art Market," Discussion Paper 2014-068, Tilburg University, Tilburg Law and Economic Center.

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    JEL classification:

    • Z19 - Other Special Topics - - Cultural Economics - - - Other

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