Navigating the art market can often feel like traversing a maze for which, by design, only a select few have a map. Magnus Resch—art market economist, Yale professor, serial entrepreneur, and best-selling author of six books on the art market, including the recently published How to Become a Successful Artist (2021)—aims to change that.
Driven by a singular objective to make the market more transparent, accessible, and democratic, Resch’s work lies at the intersection of art, technology, and business.
“At the core always stands an analytical, data-driven analysis of an existing problem,” he explained. Notably, Resch is a co-founder of Larry’s List
, a database launched in 2012 that provides insights about contemporary art collectors from over 70 countries; Magnus
app, dubbed the “Shazam for Art,” which offers artwork prices and provenance records to prospective collectors; and most recently, MagnusClass
, an online series of classes that breaks down the key principles of successfully navigating the art world as an artist, and as a collector.
In his research, Resch came to the realization that a fundamental issue limiting art market growth today is a lack of new collectors. “Eighty thousand people go to Art Basel in Miami, but only about 500 buy artworks,” he said. “What about the other 79,500 who are just going there? I would argue that half of them have the funds to buy an artwork, but they’re not. Something is keeping them away. These are boundaries that were artificially created by the existing art world. I’d like to change that.”
Drawing on his extensive experience studying, collecting data on, and lecturing about the art market, Resch is keenly aware of the most common questions new collectors consistently ask, and the roadblocks that keep art appreciators from becoming art collectors. He posits that most potential collectors don’t acquire art simply because of the overwhelming expanse of the market and a lack of access to information. This market exclusivity, he argues, is a detriment to the art market as a whole. “If we don’t have collectors, we have no market,” he explained.
Inspired by this dearth of accessible information, Resch’s latest MagnusClass course, “How to Start an Art Collection,” is an invaluable toolkit for new and aspiring collectors. Broken down into nine main lectures, each with three to seven lessons that run an average of nine minutes each, Resch’s class highlights the fundamental aspects of the art market that collectors ought to know about, offering key insights about art fairs, auction houses, galleries, artists, art advisors, and more.
In the course, he answers questions that many collectors are often too afraid to ask: “Is art a good investment?” “Am I overpaying?” “Which galleries should I trust?” Rather than telling students exactly what to do—which artists to buy, which galleries to go to, etc.—Resch provides the essential tools to empower collectors so that they may navigate the art market independently.
By breaking down the key factors of the art market into tiered categories, prospective collectors can easily make informed judgments as they begin acquiring artworks. Resch noted that these categorizations are not meant to delineate between good and bad artists, galleries, advisors, etc., but are instead meant to offer an overview and framework of the various strata of the art market so that collectors can better understand what they are buying, who they are buying from, and whose advice they are seeking.
In addition to his lectures, Resch’s classes also include interviews with notable figures in the art world, including gallerist Jeffrey Deitch, artist
, collectors Susan and Michael Hort, and many more. These interviews are an essential asset to the class that offers students an insider’s take on the market from different perspectives.
Resch’s own collecting journey began early—he bought his first work in a small auction at just 16 years old, and has been growing his collection ever since. “Art can really enrich your life,” he mused, “not only because you have something nice to put above your sofa, but it also enriches your social life.” He advises his students to engage in what he calls “responsible collecting,” explaining that collectors are supporting an entire community of artists by collecting art.
Resch’s passion for art and inspiring new collectors is palpable. During our meeting, his eyes lit up discussing how one of the first students to take the course, Mathias Wengeler (a founder and CEO at Atheneum), has already acquired four artworks. In a recent interview with Artsy, Wengeler said, “I bought a large work by
who I saw at The Hole
gallery in New York. I also bought one edition by
through Artsy’s auctions—the first art auction I ever participated in. And I bought one
edition and one original piece by
through Artsy’s gallery network. All are being delivered now and I am so excited to see them hanging. I am definitely going to buy more.”
Wengeler explained that prior to taking Resch’s course, collecting art felt daunting. “I never knew where to start, what to buy, and if I was overpaying,” he said. “The art world can be confusing and intimidating for an outsider. Magnus’s course took away this fear because he explains how the art market works—for people who don’t have much time and no experience. Watching his class made me feel more confident when buying art.”
In response to this glowing affirmation, Resch succinctly said: “That is why I do what I do.”