DP13941 Art Dealers' Strategy The case of Goupil, Boussod & Valadon from 1860 to 1914

Author(s): Géraldine David, Christian Huemer, Kim Oosterlinck
Publication Date: August 2019
Keyword(s): Art Gallery, Art Investment, Art market, French Economic History
JEL(s): N14, N44, Z11
Programme Areas: Economic History
Link to this Page: cepr.org/active/publications/discussion_papers/dp.php?dpno=13941

Despite the existence of a large literature dedicated to the art market, the management of art galleries remains a black box as both buyers and sellers put a high value on discretion. This paper overcomes the traditional lack of quantitative data by analysing the complete books of one of the most successful French galleries at the end of the 19th century: Goupil, Boussod & Valadon. This original database covers the sale of more than 40,000 artworks that occurred between 1860 and 1914. Rapidity to sell artworks was a key element in Goupil's strategy. As a whole Goupil sold 71% of artworks bought. Out of the sold artworks, almost 80% were sold within a year (with 22% before the acquisition reflecting orders). Changes in ownership allow us to quantify changes in business strategy. The first owner required a lower mark-up for the artists in residence it was sponsoring and higher ones for nobles and art dealers. The second owner followed a similar strategy but also required a higher mark-up from former branches such as Knoedler.