Date of Award
Thesis - Open Access
Master of Arts (MA)
This thesis sets out to disprove the theory of the decline of the Old Masters market using data from 2014 until 2022. The data is collected from the January and December Evening Sales at Sotheby’s auction house in both London and New York. It elicits that through the assistance of calculated estimates the market has been holding steady despite media headlines and assumptions. The market, as the smallest of the fine art sectors, fights against, but simultaneously uses to its advantage, the concept of scarcity. Many masterpieces that come to auction benefit from never having been seen before and thus can obtain high prices. For the rest of the market there may be a repetition of certain artists and artworks but the data collected shows that this frequency does not result in a decline in pricing – on the contrary it can result in a slight increase. Through 16 auctions incorporating 792 works, this thesis analyzes the estimates given at auction, the frequency at which artists appear at auction, and the average and median sales revenues generated, with and without high value pieces that might skew the results. The data shows that the Old Masters Market has, at the very least, retained its value over time.
Haydon, Erin, "The Paradox of Scarcity: A Look at the Old Masters Evening Sales from 2014 to 2022 in London and New York" (2022). MA Theses. 118.