The Economics of Aesthetics and Three Centuries of Art Price Records
26 Pages Posted: 24 Feb 2020 Last revised: 9 May 2021
Date Written: August 2014
Aggregate art price patterns mask a lot of underlying variation--both in the time series and in the cross- section. We 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. We discuss relevant recent literature, and illustrate the potential of this approach through a historical study of art price records between 1701 and 2014. Our newly constructed series also points to the importance of developments in the industrial organization of the art market for long-term price trends.
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