Institutions 08-12-2017

Works by women artists sell for almost half at auction compared to men’s

What else is new? According to a study published by the University of Luxembourg, artworks by women sell for almost half the price (47.6% to be exact) compared to men’s at auction.


The numbers are not that surprising when we consider that the highest price paid for a work by a woman at auction — $44.4 million for Georgia O'Keeffe’s 1932 work Jimson Weed/White Flower No. 1 —  is more than ten times less the staggering $450 million price tag of the most expensive artwork ever sold at auction, and far behind auction records set by fellow 20th-century artists such as Modigliani or Picasso.

Based on 1.5 million auction results realized between 1970 and 2013 by 62,442 artists across 45 countries, the study sheds light on the dire reality of gender inequality within the art market, even — and most strikingly — at lower price tags. Works by men sell for an average of $48,212, compared to $25,262 for works by women.

 

Notes: The graph shows the predicted price gender discount (in %) for different time periods derived from the OLS estimation of the (natural log of) inflation-adjusted sales price on a gender dummy (female=1), its interaction with a time-period dummy variable, and a series of control variables detailed in Table 1. We also introduce style-, year- and country-fixed effects. The model corresponds to adding period dummies to the regression in column 4 of Table 4.

 

 

The study, led by professor Roman Kräussl (Luxembourg School of Finance) concludes that, sadly, “women's art appears to sell for less because it is made by women”. An experiment with 1,000 US individuals has revealed that respondents — who were asked to guess an artist’s gender by looking at an artwork, and then rate it from 1 to 10 — show lower appreciation of works they associate with female artists. In a second experiment, researchers randomly associated fictional female and male artists to computer-generated paintings and asked 2,000 individuals to mark them on a scale. Once again, works associated with female artists obtained lower marks.

According to data collected by the United Nations Gender Inequality Index and the World Economic Forum Gender Gap Index, the gender price-gap is wider in countries with greater gender inequality.

 

Notes: The graph shows the predicted price gender discount (in %) for different countries derived from the OLS regression of the (natural log of) inflation-adjusted sale price on a gender dummy, its interaction with a number of country dummy variables, and a series of control variables detailed in Table 1. We also introduce style-, year- and country-fixed effects. Countries with fewer than five hundred transactions involving female artists are lumped into “Others”.

 

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