PRICE TRANSPARENCY: “FORTUNE FAVOURS THE BRAVE”

 

First quoted in The Aeneid and later echoed by Shakespeare, the phrase “Fortune favours the brave” has coined a symbol of success for those willing to take the risk. Inspired by this line of thought, we have decided to publish the artworks in our published inventory through Artnet as the next step towards our transparency mission.

Art’s price transparency has slowly become more welcomed within the industry but until now, never to the top-tier offering. The blue-chip secondary dealership model, which remained largely unchanged for decades, is finally witnessing a significant transformation due to the pandemic. Hybrid online-live auctions and viewing rooms in art fairs have significantly contributed to the increment in the average price of the artworks publicly published online. These major shifts in progressive thinking reported over +30% of newcomers from other industries finally feeling comfortable entering the art market’s murky waters during 2020.[1]

But why waiting for an auction season or an art fair where all artworks have to compete elbow-to-elbow for the collector’s attention? Why it has to be so seasonal? It is time for secondary market players to develop a friendlier, healthier, and open competition through the transparent publishing of the prices.

The dark age of the art industry built on information asymmetry as a sign of power and revenue profit is coming to an end. Emma Son, senior director at Lehmann Maupin, said that 2020 “confirmed that there is a growing comfort to transact at a high price point. It is not only prints and photographs that are performing well on these platforms.”[2]

Despite the success amongst collectors of online platforms, according to Artnet’s CEO Jacob Pabst, “big auction houses and art galleries did not appreciate the mission of the company, which had to wait over a decade to finally become profitable, demonstrating that its aim was not to replace a system, but to enhance its operations.”[3]

The missing face-to-face interaction since the pandemic outbreak has been overcome by tearing down as many barriers as possible. Price transparency is a winning strategy to encourage and speed up the acquisition process, drive unsolicited dealers away and democratize a well-known elitist industry.

We are aware that digital-only phenomena are unlikely to continue once the lockdown measures are lifted. No 4K monitor will ever replace the physical interaction with an artwork; however, the pool of buyers and sellers at all levels will demand data and the use of measurable tools to make an informed decision in their consumption.

Neutral and specific language like ‘publicly available pricing’ has historically scared sellers afraid of “burning” an artwork and damaging its reputation. However, we firmly believe that an artwork is worth for the intrinsic artistic merit and not by the amount of exposure caused by unauthorized wheeler/dealers.

The lack of transparency of the art market is not breaking news, but the rapid change in demand catalyzed by the COVID-19 has been in every dealer’s mind for almost a year. Artemundi knows it is time for the art world as a whole to follow its example and embrace transparency, going beyond legal regulations to truly self-regulate and create a welcoming environment for new players. From art dealers and agents to collectors and sellers, all industry players have a critical role in promoting a more transparent art market, and that involves art price transparency at all levels too.


[1] Dewar, Lindsay. “Global Art Market Outlook 2021.” ArtTactic, Feb. 2021, arttactic.com/product/global-art-market-outlook-2021.

[2] Kinsella, Eileen, and Kate Brown. “After a Year of Being Forced to Sell Art Online, Gallerists Have Learned 5 Surprising Lessons—and It’s Clear There’s No Going Back.” Artnet News, 3 Mar. 2021, news.artnet.com/market/ovr-art-fairs-art-galleries-1947811.

[3] Saccone, Olimpia. “New Tendencies in the Online Art Market: Price Transparency and the ‘Behavioural Surplus’ | ArtTactic.” ArtTactic, 22 June 2020, arttactic.com/editorial/new-tendencies-in-the-online-art-market-price-transparency-and-the-behavioural-surplus.

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