Pricing Art and the Art of Pricing: On Returns and Risk in Art Auction Markets

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We study price determinants and investment performance of art based on a vast sample of transactions around the world over the past 60 years. Art has appreciated at a real (nominal) annual return of 2.49% (6.24%). Higher art returns are reached for paintings at high-end of the price distribution, for oil paintings, for more recent art movements, for transactions by reputable auction houses. The risk-return tradeoff of paintings underperforms that of other passion investments. Paintings’ Sharpe ratios are below those of stocks, bonds, and gold but outperform commodities and real estate. Investments in paintings also enter the optimal investment portfolio.
Original languageEnglish
Place of PublicationTilburg
PublisherCentER, Center for Economic Research
Number of pages70
Publication statusPublished - 19 Jul 2021

Publication series

NameCentER Discussion Paper


  • auction
  • art investment
  • alternative investments
  • cultural economics
  • hedonic pricing model
  • repeat sales model
  • portfolio optimization


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