Price ambiguity as a buyer sorting mechanism

This is from Peter Aspden’s FT ten point guide to mastering the contemporary art market:

So you quite like the look of something, and you ask how much it costs. “Two,” may be the reply. The air of vagueness is a test. You will know, from your studies of the artist in question, whether that means £2 (no), £200 (unlikely), £200,000, or £2m. But if the gallerist’s assistant is American, she (almost always a she) may be talking dollars. Don’t ask. Make a rough calculation in your head that covers all possible options. Any physical reaction is ill-advised, other than the barely perceptible raising of an eyebrow. Finally, ask if she will accept roubles. You’re on the front foot now.

Keep in mind that art sellers very often have preferences over the quality of buyers they sell to.  Higher quality buyers lead to referrals, perceived gallery quality, and also do more to boost the artist’s reputation, which in turn helps the value of the gallery’s inventory.

Comments

I remember asking, at Art Chicago back in the late 1980s, the price of a large painting by Yves Klein, on offer by a Swiss gallery. The gallery person said "2.......(long pause.......million." To which I responded, without pause, "Is that Swiss francs or dollars?" "Dollars."

Needless to say, I couldn't have bought it even if it had been Swiss francs...

Like this?

http://www.moma.org/collection/object.php?object_id=80103

Bet you had a laugh that day.

On a recent trip, we went to the Philadelphia Museum of Art (ie, the Rocky museum). It has an very nice collection of Old Masters and early-modern artists (including lots of Picassos), where we spent hours. In the late-modern art areas, all the paintings had about as much impact as barcodes or iphone scan squares; we spent about fifteen minutes cruising through these.

You see more artistry in most restaurant menus.

However, some of the late-modern sculptures were interesting, as you could at least figure out where they were trying to go with their artistic statement.

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Not on view?! Sic transit gloria mundi (or rather, gloria musei).

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I rate that article a........4.

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Keep in mind that art sellers very often have preferences over the quality of buyers they sell to. - See more at: http://marginalrevolution.com/#sthash.rf6Apb7I.dpuf

So logically they should offer discounts to celebrity buyers? Does a rich dentist get a better price than a rich drug lord with a suitcase of cash they want to launder?

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Wonder how they react if you ask if they accept cash.

Or Bitcoin.

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Tyler, look how you mangled Ray's comment.

Don't be a jerk.

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