Art Dealers' Inventory Strategy the Case of Goupil, Boussod & Valadon from 1860 to 1914

73 Pages Posted: 21 Feb 2020 Last revised: 28 May 2020

See all articles by Géraldine David

Géraldine David

Université Libre de Bruxelles (ULB)

Christian Huemer

Österreichische Galerie Belvedere

Kim Oosterlinck

Université Libre de Bruxelles - SBS-EM, CEB

Date Written: August 2019

Abstract

Proper inventory management is crucial for art galleries since the art market is highly illiquid, subject to periodic changes in tastes and that inventory represents one of the main costs of galleries. Yet, despite its importance, inventory management has been overlooked in the literature. This paper distinguishes four main strategies used by art dealers to manage their inventory: relying on commissions, on consignments, on speed of sale or on large inventories. We use this classification to set the inventory strategy of Goupil, Boussod & Valadon, a major art gallery active in France at the end of the 19th century, into perspective. Goupil's books cover the sale of more than 25,000 artworks between 1860 and 1914. Rapidity to sell was a key element in Goupil's strategy. Out of the sold artworks, almost 75% were sold within a year. Artworks which had been in inventory for a long time sold at a discount. Goupil required a slightly higher mark-up for artists from which he held a large inventory. Mark-up for artists in residence were lower, suggesting Goupil was ready to make a discount to establish their market. The likelihood to sell their artworks at a loss was also lower, signaling a preoccupation for their long-term market.

Keywords: Art Gallery, Art Investment, Art market, French Economic History

JEL Classification: N14, N44, Z11

Suggested Citation

David, Géraldine and Huemer, Christian and Oosterlinck, Kim, Art Dealers' Inventory Strategy the Case of Goupil, Boussod & Valadon from 1860 to 1914 (August 2019). CEPR Discussion Paper No. DP13941. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3464463

Géraldine David (Contact Author)

Université Libre de Bruxelles (ULB) ( email )

CP 132 Av FD Roosevelt 50
Brussels, Brussels 1050
Belgium

Christian Huemer

Österreichische Galerie Belvedere ( email )

Schloss Belvedere, Prinz Eugen-Straße 27
Wien, 1030
Austria

Kim Oosterlinck

Université Libre de Bruxelles - SBS-EM, CEB ( email )

50 Avenue Roosevelt, CP114/03
Brussels 1050
Belgium

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