What Makes Art Valuable?

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Published on 1st March 2016 by

Every so often you’ll see a news article on a piece of art selling for millions of dollars, and wondering how the hell that happened. So, what makes one piece of art worth hundreds of thousands or millions whilst comparative pieces of similar age and quality go for much less? Is it all based on some sort of collective appreciation, a flaw in the concept of subjectivity, or are there other factors which extend past the reputation of the painter and the quality of the piece?

The one hour long 2011 BBC documentary What Makes Art Valuable? attempts to answer that question, the truth is that there are numerous factors which go into determining the value of a piece of art and some you probably would never have considered. For example, one factor is the status of the previous owner of the work. Not the original painter, but the reputation and status of the seller! A painting once owned by David Rockefeller, for example, would be worth more than the exact same painting if it were owned by somebody not famous enough to justify their own Wikipedia entry.

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