Predicting Art Market Profit Potential Pt. 1 –

Predicting Art Market Profit Potential Pt. 1 –

Using auction prices to identify trends and determine whether the price being paid for a particular artist’s work is on the rise is all well and good, but by the time the price of an artist’s work begins to rise in a rapid manner, the best opportunity to profit from the price increase is likely to have already passed. Auction price databases such as and are extremely useful but they are really only useful for artists who already have an extensive auction sale record. What if there were a system that was able to identify those artists who are most likely to achieve market success before they actually do?. Well, you may be pleased to hear that there is. By looking at what is essentially one of the most influential factors that determines the success of an artist’s career, namely how many exhibitions an artist’s work is included in and how important those exhibitions are, is able to rank artists according to their fame and popularity in the cultural sphere as well as in the commercial gallery sphere. That ranking, according to, is generated according to the theory that the greater number of shows the artist has, the greater will be the fame of a particular artist. And, as we all know, familiarity generates demand, and increased demand equals increased value (usually). I don’t think that anyone can dispute the fact that museum and gallery shows make artists more saleable and raise the price of their work.

The way that the Artist Ranking Tool works is by assigning different points values to particular types of exhibitions and the different institutions and galleries that hold these exhibitions. The number of points assigned to an artist depends on the importance of that institution/gallery exhibiting their work and the amount of exposure that the exhibition gives the artist in question. According to the website “Solo shows are worth more than group shows or art fairs. Documenta, in Kassel, Germany, is worth more than the Venice Biennale. Public museums count more than galleries. And different museums have different weights. Those in cities like Paris or New York count for more. Small museums and university museums count for almost nothing”. There does of course have to be some sort of criteria to determine whether an artist is worthy of being included in the system which is where the eligibliity criteria come into play. For an artist to be ranked they must have a sufficiently international presence which in the case of means those artists that have long term ties with at least three countries. According to “A.R places great importance on the international representation of artists. Only artists operating in international structures will be chosen as a primary value source. The reason why A.R does this is because it recognises the worth of mutual knowledge. Only artists who are common to diverse societies, countries and/or cultures will be really important and therefore create a kind of brand or universal value (like a standard). So the A.R uses internationality as a standard for the basic calculations.”

To be continued…………..

**Nicholas Forrest is an art market analyst, art critic and journalist based in Sydney, Australia. He is the founder of, writes the art column for the magazine Antiques and Collectibles for Pleasure and Profit and contributes to many other publications

2 Responses

  1. I do not see a great difference between and artnet.
    A successfull artist with lots of exhibitions and fame, will certainly have an extensive auction sale record, whereas an unknown artist will not.

    Maybe can be a useful auxiliary tool, but I doubt that it can predict the potential market success of an artist.
    Fame and market success are usually interrelated like the two sides of a coin, though I am not sure yet which comes first (especially in the recent years).

    It would be highly interesting if there were a website that could predict the potentiality of unknown artists. Of course that is impossible.

  2. Andronikos,

    You’re right to a large extent, but I think you’re misunderstanding a bit what is trying to measure. Fame and market success generally are two sides of the same coin, but ArtFacts attempts to measure buzz, which is not the same as fame. Buzz, if handled properly by the marketing and PR folks (and the artist through continued quality and productivity), can lead to fame and thus to market success, but it’s a precursor. Not all buzz has led to fame, of course, but plenty of it has.

    For a good overview of how buzz leads to fame and high prices, I’d really recommend reading Don Thompson’s The $12 Million Stuffed Shark. For a good overview of how investors can harness such buzz and maximize returns, I’d recommend reading Skate’s Art Investment Handbook (I’ll admit my bias outright by stating that I work for Skate’s).


    Adam Fuss
    Managing Editor, Skate’s Art Market Research

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