Art Basel Miami Beach: Market experts discuss price transparency

A group of art market experts met for an Art Basel Miami Beach conversation about pricing on Wednesday. (Art Basel Miami Beach)

MIAMI BEACH, Fla. – Art Basel invited a group of experts to discuss price transparency in the hybrid contemporary art market on Wednesday at the Miami Beach Convention Center.

Esther Kim Varet said pricing opacity has historically been the norm as the art world has thrived on secrecy. The practice, she said, has intimidated the new collectors coming into the market from China.

“I think it was really about the dealer maintaining control of the prices in a way that could best serve the artist over time,” said Varet, who is the co-founder of the Various Small Fires galleries.

Marion Maneker, the moderator, said the topic is more relevant now that online sales have increased during the pandemic. The veteran journalist is the editorial director of LiveArt, a digital market platform.

Alexander Forbes said there is a lot that can be learned from the secondary market for non-fungible tokens. NFTs provide proof of a digital file’s ownership through blockchain technology.

“It’s a completely frictionless process,” said Forbes, who works for Artsy, an online art brokerage based in New York.

Forbes, Artsy’s director of corporate development and market intelligence, said surveys have shown 60% to 80% of Artsy users are buying art for enjoyment and it’s not just an asset class.

“What we do so often, particularly among younger folks, is a desire to understand, ‘If I am going to put a significant portion of my net worth into artwork, could I get it out in the future if I need it to? Could it hold some value? Or will it depreciate?’”

Heather Flow has made a career out of helping buyers to navigate the art world. Maneker said the founder of Flow Advisory, an art consultancy firm based in New York, also protects her clients “against the sharks.”

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About the Author:

The Emmy Award-winning journalist joined the Local 10 News team in 2013. She wrote for the Miami Herald for more than 9 years and won a Green Eyeshade Award.