How Do We Determine the Value of Art?

Dec 17, 2013

A Jeff Koons red balloon flower
Credit Wikimedia Commons

A Francis Bacon triptych, "Three Studies of Lucian Freud" sells for $142.4 million.

Jeff Koons work sells for $58.4 million, making it the most expensive art by a living artist to sell at auction.

Is any art really worth this much or do a few wealthy investors artificially drive up the market to divert the rest of us from the reality of overall declining sales. If art is not worth as much as certain vested interests want us to believe, how do we determine the real worth of art?

Is it based on the notion of connoisseurship, the discriminating and fine taste honed by a well-trained eye, determined by objective analysis, or graded by the masses on a scale of 1-5 on Yelp?

Complicating this delicate determination of value is the high rate of theft. How does theft inflate the value of artwork and how do inflated prices promote additional theft?

Today, we talk to an appraiser, a critic, and a former FBI agent who recovers stolen art.

"Red Cat Purple Dog" by Chion Wolf
Credit Chion Wolf

Leave your comments below, email us at colin@wnpr.org, or tweet us @wnprcolin. 

Today's show was produced by intern Greg Dyson.