Glass Ceilings in the Art Market

56 Pages Posted: 30 Nov 2017 Last revised: 28 Jan 2018

Fabian Bocart

Artnet Worldwide Corporation

Marina Gertsberg

Maastricht University

Rachel A.J. Pownall

Tilburg University - Department of Finance; Maastricht University - Department of Finance

Date Written: January 25, 2018


Using a unique data set consisting of the population of fine art auctions from 2000 to 2017 for Western artists, we provide strong empirical evidence for a glass ceiling for female artists. First, we show that female artists are less likely to transition from the primary (gallery) into the secondary (auction) market. This higher bar results is manifested in an average premium of 6% for artworks by female artists at auction. Second, this premium is driven by a small number of women located at the top of the market and turns into a discount of 8% when we account for the number of artworks sold per artist. The superstar effect, where a small number of individuals absorbs the majority of industry revenues, is amplified for the group of female artists. Third, at the top 0.1% of the market artworks by female artists are traded at a discount of 9%. Moreover, the very top 0.03% of the market, where 41% of the revenues are concentrated, are entirely off limits for women. Overall, we identify two glass ceilings for women pursuing an artistic career. While the first one is located at the starting point of a female artist's career, the second one can be found at the transition into the superstar league of the market and remains yet impermeable. Our study has important implications for industries characterized by a superstar effect and a strong concentration of men relative to women.

Keywords: Art market, Auctions, Gender economics, Labour economics, Wage differentials

JEL Classification: J24, J31, J71, Z11

Suggested Citation

Bocart, Fabian and Gertsberg, Marina and Pownall, Rachel A.J., Glass Ceilings in the Art Market (January 25, 2018). Available at SSRN: or

Fabian Bocart

Artnet Worldwide Corporation ( email )

233 Broadway
Floor 26
New York City, NY 10279
United States

Marina Gertsberg (Contact Author)

Maastricht University ( email )

P.O. Box 616
Maastricht, 6200MD

Rachel Ann Jane Pownall

Tilburg University - Department of Finance ( email )

P.O. Box 90153
Tilburg, 5000 LE

Maastricht University - Department of Finance ( email )

Maastricht, 6200 MD

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