MiB: How to sell a billion worth of art

Brooke Lampley doesn’t just advise art collectors, although she does plenty of that. Over the past decade, she has helped them make purchase decisions previously as vice-president of Impressionist and Modern Art at Christie’s, and currently, as vice chair of the Fine Art division at Sotheby’s. Lampley has moved paintings and sculptures that collectively sold for more than a billion dollars.

Not too shabby for someone who initially thought she would end up in a sleepy museum doing curation.

There are surprising parallels between fine art sales and investing. The key question is always about valuation: how can we determine market prices for individual items that might not be especially liquid, and come to market once every few decades. Auction processes that can help set prices, as do buyers who specialize in specific art assets.

There are objective issues that affect the price of each item: rarity, authenticity and provenance, for certain, but other issues of valuation that are clearly subjective: how sensuous, romantic, beautiful, or lush and vivid a work might be. Those individual opinions often determine why one painting by an artist might sell for $750,000 while another from the same artist can sell for $7 million or even $70 million dollars.

Some of her favorite books are referenced here. Our conversation transcript is here.

You can stream/download the full conversation, including the podcast extras, on BloombergiTunesOvercast, and Soundcloud. Our earlier podcasts can all be found on iTunesSoundcloudOvercast and Bloomberg.

Next week, we speak with Ed Mendel, co-founder of Ned Davis Research, and part owner of the Atlanta Falcons.



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