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Culture & Religion

When Buying Your Next Picasso, Check the Numbers

A study evaluating demand for valuable artworks shows that a variety of factors can affect the bidding price, including age of the artist, whether it was purchased before, and how popular the artist is on Google.

Article written by guest writer Kecia Lynn

What’s the Latest Development?

Want to add something of serious value to your art collection? Researchers at Washington State University say you should look at a variety of factors, including how many Google hits the artist gets. The study used a system called “hedonic regression theory…[which estimates] demand relative to a product’s price and characteristics” to review over a thousand paintings auctioned over a period of 13 years, all of them by famous artists of the 19th and 20th centuries.

What’s the Big Idea?

Aside from Google’s influence, other factors that increased the price of a work were the artist’s most popular subject matters and styles, as well as their age: The older the artist was when the work was completed, the more money the painting was worth. Elements that caused price decreases included previous gifting of the work and swapping between artists. Using the current world record holder for most expensive painting — Munch’s The Scream — as an example, Pacific Standard writer Trish Reynales wonders whether it’s time for “a companion study factoring YouTube appearances…and number of cameos on South Park or The Simpsons.”

Photo Credit: Olga Popova/


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