What an extraordinary auction says about the art market

P.Any Pinchis a Chicago street artist who likes to enjoy the finances of the art world. From murals to paintings to his tote bags made in collaboration with his Chicago Cubs baseball team, his work uses found and donated materials (hence his name). . His latest experiment, held at his A Very Serious Gallery in the northwest part of the city, is in pricing.

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On December 16th, Pinch will sell 15 paintings at an auction in Holland. The price for each he starts at $3,000 and he decreases by $100 every hour until a buyer appears. According to Pinch and gallery owner Alan Weinberger, this is the first new art auction (a claim your correspondent couldn’t rebut).

Dutch auctions are commonly used to sell homogeneous commodities, such as 17th-century Dutch cut flowers and today’s government bonds. Its use in unique pieces is fairly rare. Pinch said auctions are “an opportunity for people who cannot normally afford to buy large pieces.” It’s also a chance to make fun of the art world.

Opportunity may come at a price. As his Eric Budish of the University of Chicago points out, the trick to Dutch auctions is knowing where to set the starting price. For government bonds, we look at previous auctions to set the range. Mr. Pinch’s art has no equivalent. That means he risks setting the price too low and leaving money on the table.

Mr. Pinch is not interested in this as he has other things on his mind. In a normal auction, potential buyers are subject to crowds. The hype around the offering indicates high potential resale value and high status gains if the auction is won. Pinch thinks these kinds of considerations are “pesky.” That’s why he prefers Dutch auctions and why it’s not possible. If someone bids before it’s too late. Potential buyers should focus on how much they value art, not how much others value it.

But the experiment has an irony. Mr. Pinch and Mr. Weinberger are Holland’s first art hype enough to attract exactly the kind of buyers they want to repel, motivated by status rather than love of art, by launching his auction. may produce.

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