European Business Schools Librarian's Group

Les Cahiers de Recherche,
HEC Paris

No 1055: The Economics of Aesthetics and Three Centuries of Art Price Records

Christophe Spaenjers () and William Goetzmann ()

Abstract: Aggregate art price patterns mask a lot of underlying variation — both in the time series and in the cross-section. The authors argue that, to increase our understanding of the market for aesthetics, it is helpful to take a micro perspective on the formation of art prices, and acknowledge that each artwork gives rise to a market for trading in its private-value benefits. They discuss relevant recent literature, and illustrate the potential of this approach through a historical study of art price records between 1701 and 2014. Their newly constructed series also points to the importance of developments in the industrial organization of the art market for long-term price trends.

Keywords: art market; auctions; art prices; records; private values

JEL-codes: D10; D44; G10; N00; Z10

21 pages, August 11, 2014

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