The typical gallery that defaults to publicly available prices will also receive more sales for each similar work uploaded, on average. Controlling the sample further for the number of available works within each available population, we saw that for artworks in the top three segments of other factors that contribute to demand (such as the relative popularity of the artist and the artwork’s medium and size), an artwork uploaded with its price publicly available was between two and six times more likely to sell than one with its price hidden. Results on conversion from upload to sale for the bottom two segments were inconclusive, which we believe is due to the higher variability of artworks and demand within those two segments.
As Akerlof’s paper hypothesized, the data suggest there were willing buyers who weren’t expressing an intent to buy (asking for a price) when the work’s price wasn’t available. This means that there are works sitting in galleries’ storage, actively costing the galleries money to hold onto, which could have sold if their price had been made publicly available. There are artists who could have more money in their pockets to invest in their practices (or families, or anything else they might want in life). And there are art buyers who could be living with more art they love.
What’s more, because limiting information asymmetries spreads demand out to lesser-known brands, more publicly available pricing can help support a larger art ecosystem and bring yet more artists to the fore.
That all sounds more thrilling to me than being one of hundreds to receive a price list in my inbox. Who wants more email, anyway?
If you have feedback, ideas, or comments, don’t hesitate to reach out via email or Twitter.