Home > A closer look > 10 Misconceptions About the Art Market
10 Misconceptions About the Art Market
A closer look 13 Jun 2015

10 Misconceptions About the Art Market

The art market and its pretenses

The art market is the object of all fantasies. “El Dorado” for some, “bottomless pit” for others, this nebulous ecosystem is governed by many complex factors that it is interesting to learn to decipher in order to qualify your preconceptions. A highly lucrative market, according to the Art Basel and UBS Global Art Market report, worldwide sales of works of art and antiques in 2019 reached an estimated $ 64.1 billion. This market thus enjoys a reputation as glorious as it is sulfurous. Artsper separates the true from the false among 10 received ideas that revolve around the art market.


1 “It’s intimidating!”

Passing through the doors of a gallery is not an easy step for everyone. Often caricatured as a place with a heavy or even stilted atmosphere, the representation that we have of a gallery, in general, prevents us from taking the plunge to dare to deconstruct our preconceptions. We have all apprehended at least once the haughty look of a gallery owner or other visitors. If indeed, we sometimes have this impression, it is quite simply that the commissions made for each sale are added to the gallery owner’s salary. Therefore, the latter is more interested in a potential buyer. But don’t get me wrong, these contemporary art enthusiasts are always happy to let you know about an artist’s work they are exhibiting. So don’t hesitate to ask them for information on a work that catches your eye.

The “Tehachapi” exhibition by the artist JR at the Perrotin Gallery, 2020

2 “It’s a sport of billionaires”

When we hear about a Picasso sold for 125 million euros, a Cézanne for 190 million euros, or even a Gauguin for 265 million euros, it is easy to draw hasty conclusions on these eccentric billionaires who spend excessively. However, these are unique cases that make the headlines due to their extravagance! Many received ideas circulate about collectors, nonetheless, there are endless amateur art lovers, passionate and curious, with budgets, most often, limited.

The 1892 painting by Paul Gauguin, sold for 265 million euros

3 “It’s too expensive for me”

Wrong! If it’s true that Jeff Koons, Andy Warhol, and JM Basquiat are sold for a fortune, they represent less than 1% of the art market. The vast majority of works are sold at less than 3,000€ and you can find unique works from 100€! Discover Artsper’s selection of affordable works!

Jeff Koons’ famous “Rabbit” that sold for $ 91.1 million in New York by Christie’s Auction

4 “The artists are already rich enough!”

Ok… Damien Hirst has a fortune estimated at more than $400 million. But stop dreaming, more than 90% of artists don’t live off their work. And only 5-6% of artists were able to live all their lives for their art without interruptions.

5 “It is impossible if one doesn’t live in Paris-London-New York!”

False for two reasons: first being that there are galleries in nearly every large city. Check Google Maps! The second is that with sites like Artsper, you can buy from any gallery in the world from the comfort of your couch!

An exhibition at ART FIVE Gallery, Marseille

6 “It is very uncertain, you never know if the artist will gain value!”

And fortunately! If it had ever been possible to anticipate an artist’s success, the artists would never take the risk and would conform to a wise algorithm instead… And suddenly art would cease to exist or become insignificant. Therefore, do not try to anticipate your return on investment, and be guided by your emotions and instinct.

MadAlvar, Mujeres, 2020

7 “It’s like saving money!”

Yes and no… It’s true that some highly regarded artists have a chance to grow in value which attracts collectors that invest merely financially. But it doesn’t work consistently since the artist’s odds to become successful can drop at any moment! In the ’90s, for example, a group of artists of the YBA (Young British Artist) movement served as a hold-up on the art market (notably Julian Schnabel and David Salle), with prices even higher than Andy Warhol. Today, they amount to 1/20 of Andy’s value!

Opening party for the “Freeze”, with Richard Patterson (left) and Damien Hirst (right)

8 “I could make it myself rather than spending a fortune!”

Well done! The work will have no value, but if it gives you many emotions, there’s no need to deny it… A certain John Czupryniak has also experimented. Revolted because the Museum of Ottawa bought Barnett Newman’s bi-chromatic canvas (only 2 colors painted in wide strips) for $1.8 million, that house painter decided to redo the work identically, and sell it for $400. A beautiful secondhand work!

9 “A work must be seen before being bought”

There are two sides to everything… Although many collectors have already adopted the habit of buying the work via catalog and telephone. Because today, due to photographic quality, screen resolution, print quality, etc., the effect is almost the same. Furthermore, 68% of collectors claim that they have already purchased online

Detailed photos on Artpser from the work of Mara Toledo, “And new chicks are born on the farm”

10 “The market corrupts works of art”

Let’s stop with the image of a bohemian artist who will be recognized only after his death and for whom money is secondary. This non-commercial, romantic vision is no longer valid. Whether it is good or bad, is not the issue. It is reality and to see art as something that doesn’t sell is more of naivety than a dream…

About Artsper

About Artsper

Founded in 2013, Artsper is an online marketplace for contemporary art. Partnering with 1,800 professional art galleries around the world, it makes discovering and acquiring art accessible to all.

Learn more