Will The One-Man Art Index Become Obsolete?

Over the years, art collectors and dealers have looked to the number one indicator of art market prosperity – the single-handed Dow Jones that is the work of Andy Warhol.

With the number of individual Warhol’s wavering around the 10,000 mark and including replications up to a staggering 400,000, the power of these works to sway the market is self-explanatory. But what happens when the art market is no longer efficient, unable to reflect all the readily available information? The so-called Andy Index will begin to lack integrity as auction information starts to slips into a black hole of online sales.

This is the inevitable outcome of growth in the web auction presence. The data of sold art is only available for the short time it is up for sale, and since this method is so popular with artists and vendors who like to keep the stats of unsold art on the down low, it’s reckoned that this is the status quo new auction houses will maintain for the time being. The start-up Auction Room is a fan – good news for Charles Saatchi who contributed almost half a million dollars worth of works to the sale.

The ability to predict the valuation of art is already as transparent as mud, and from here onwards the emerging data surrounding art sales may not be more than just misleading hearsay. “People want to know what things sell for,” told Clare McAndrew to the FT, “If sales on the Internet are not reported … people will lose faith in data.”

Looks like there’s a way to go until a Moneyball -esque revelation works some magic in the art buyers’ market. Until then, hold onto your hats.

-Louise Coleman