The business of art
The Scream by Edvard Munch
Famous art rarely comes up for auction. So, a tremendous amount of attention has been paid to the recent press release: “Sotheby's to Offer One of the Most Famous Masterpieces in the World…Edvard Munch’s masterpiece The Scream.”
The business of selling and acquiring high-end art is rather fascinating, and this is how the process works.
1. An owner or dealer contacts the auction house… Sotheby’s or Christie’s, for instance.
2. The art is taken to a secure location and examined by the auction house.
3. Historians and appraisers from around the world are flown in to authenticate the work and give a price estimate. The length and expense of this authentication process varies. For instance, when Willlem de Kooning’s Woman III came up for auction in 2006, it had taken 3 years and well over $2 million dollars to trace it back to its original owners at the Tehran Museum of Contemporary Art.
4. The reserve or minimum price is determined.
5. A seller’s commission is discussed. This usually ranges from 15-20% (with 17.5% being the average).
6. The seller and auction house sign an auction agreement which is a legal contract allowing the auction house to sell the work of art.
7. The press release is generated.
8. And, finally the art goes up for auction.
Estimates for The Scream, to be auctioned in May, are in excess of $80 million. Here are a few other pricey pieces of art....
Irises by Vincent van Gogh
Sold for $53.9 million in 1987; inflation adjusted value, $105.4 million
Garçon à la Pipe by Pablo Picasso
Sold in 2004 for $104 million; adjusted value, $124.3 million
The Card Players by Paul Cézanne
Currently holds the title of the most expensive art purchased at auction.
Sold in 2011 for $250 million.
Dora Maar au Chat by Pablo Picasso
Sold for $95 million in 2006; adjusted value $106.1
No. 5, 1948 by Jackson Pollock
Sold in 2006 for $140 million; adjusted value, $156.8 million
The Mona Lisa by Leonardo da Vinci
Housed behind bullet proof glass in a climate controlled case on permanent display at the Musée du Louvre in Paris, this 16th century masterpiece has an insurance value of $750 million.