An artist’s rating ? The value/appraisal of an artwork ? Smart buying and/or reselling an artwork.




Price is often an issue when buying or reselling an artwork…What is the artist’s « rating » ? How is the price of an artwork set ? Clarification.Price is often an issue when buying or reselling an artwork…What is the artist’s « rating » ? How is the price of an artwork set ? Clarification.


When it comes to purchasing an artwork, or reselling one, price is often an issue. In both cases, it isn’t about budget, but rather about the value of the artwork, of the artist, of the famous art market rating.


" what is the artist's rating ? "

" how in an artist's art market rate calculated ? "

" how to fing an artist's rating ? "

" is the artist rated ? "

" what is the value of this artwork ? "


Many questions often asked, but with the true underlying question « is it a good investment ? » This said, when it comes to reselling an artwork, we often wonder « how do I get an estimate for this artwork ? »

So, here are some key points to help you understand how the art market works and how an artwork or an artist is valued.


First of all, it is important to know that the art market and its prices are freely established. When speaking of “official rating”, you’ll see that the prices are not governed by regulated or controlled rules, in the legal sense of these terms. If art is a market in which we speak of investing or speculating, there is no supervisory board like those that exist for the financial market or stock markets.


Therefore, what is an official rating ? How is it « official » ? 

This « official rating » is a cluster of sales prices (or estimates by experts) of artworks by an artist, over a certain period, that are sold at auctions, by regulated professional auctioneers. 

Only for this reason do we speak of an official rating. For, it is the sales prices set during a regulated auction, which are defined by the valuation principle of supply and demand, that determine the bid price. 

Nonetheless, if an artwork is not sold during an auction, the rating is based on the price set by appraisal, even if there was no taker. 

This means that, in the end, anyone can obtain an official rating, and that this rating doesn’t mean that the artworks in question were purchased.

Hence, an artist that has an officially rating is not a guarantee of “value” nor a marker of acknowledgement in the art market.

So, if the answer to the question “is this artist rated?” is “yes”, it isn’t, in itself, a proof of “value”. For this, one would need to dig deeper in order to determine the rating…

How to analyze and follow an artist’s official rating, with its variations, and where can one find an official rating ? 


An artist’s official rating can be easily obtained on the web, but it isn’t free… 

Below, a list of websites that give all the relevant information needed for the analysis and the tracking of an artist’s rate :

Once you access the data, it is important to look for : 


  • The number of sales by auction : the more there are, the more reliable the indicator is.
  • The location of the auction houses in which the sales took place…you’ll find that many artists are auctioned once a year, possibly near their hometowns, but without selling any artworks at auction. However, when an artist whose artworks have been sold in various auctions, including international auction houses, then it starts to get interesting…
  • The dates : past ? recent ? their frequency ? 


  • If the artwork was sold during the auction or if it is the appraised price that is retained (now knowing how an artist’s rating is established), you now understand that the less artworks are sold, the more their price index is questionable.
  • Lastly, what is the price differential between the appraisal and the final sales price…similarly, artworks that are sold below their estimated price is not a good sign either…

Of course, all the websites cited above will « assist » you with graphs, to help you follow the trends. Therefore, an artist regularly SOLD in auctions, and over several years, at prices higher than the appraised prices is an artist that is “rated” and could effectively be a good investment, in addition to being an artist you love. Consequently, these are often artists « backed » by collectors who own several artworks by the very same artist and who partake in all the auctions in order to…drive up the prices !


If the works of an artist are not sold at auction, how are the prices of artworks established ?  

Artists, art galleries and online art galleries set the prices, freely.


Private sales are the opposite of auctions…the sales and purchase prices are set freely and agreed upon between the buyer and the seller. Thus, the price of an artwork is set by the artist himself (on his website or in his workshop) and his vendors : the galleries. At this point, not only does it become complicated, but also random, fluctuating…and blurred.

Normally, prices fluctuate according to supply and demand, and also vary depending on the size and/or the technique (a drawing being less expensive than a mounted painting on canvas, of equal size), and the whole, proportionally speaking (a 100 x 100 should be less expensive than a 200 x 100).

In actual fact, prices evolve depending on the quality of a gallery and its client portfolio (and size of their wallets).


In actual fact, prices evolve depending on the quality of a gallery and its client portfolio (and size of their wallets).

This is why it isn’t at all uncommon to find a 100 x 100cm artwork, priced at 2,000 euros in a provincial gallery and another one of equal size priced at 4,000 euros in a gallery situated Place des Vosges or Saint-Germain, in Paris…

Therefore, the challenge for an artist, who wishes to boost his prices, is to be represented by the biggest and best located galleries, that are known internationally and have well-filled address books. 

But, to also stay with the gallery as long as possible, because the duration reflects an artist’s “bankability”, until being spotted by an even bigger gallery. 


In this case, the galleries set, guide, and create (or break) the prices.

Art and Instagram, Art and Celebrities, or the marketing of art…

Of course, the notoriety factor plays a role…the more an artist is known, the more his/her artworks will sell, becoming scarce and, consequently, more expensive…ergo the importance for an artist to post a picture, on Instagram (with 2000 followers), taken with a celebrity (he/she followed by millions) who just purchased an artwork ! 

To what extent can marketing and communication, more than talent, create the notoriety (and value) of an artist ? 

That’s whole other debate…

Like the legitimacy of street art, currently the art market’s beloved child (see article “Street Art and Wall Street”)


Coherence of Art market prices ? Haziness, variations, discrepancies and manipulations…

As you can see…it’s difficult to gain a balanced and trustworthy perspective of the coherence and “validity” of an artist’s prices, because unlike the stock market, there is no regulatory body to track down insider trading or cartel agreements…


What will make the difference is the « seriousness »  of the gallery or the online sales platform, to whom you will turn to. A vendor’s artist selection and pricing must reflect an artist’s “maturity” and his/her recognition on the art market, not on an artist’s “bankable” quality (or a vendor’s client portfolio and the size of its clients’ wallets)…


Today’s « great » artists, whose artworks are sold for thousands of euros, millions even, started out by selling artworks for “mere” hundreds or a thousand euros.


But that isn’t always the case either, the counterexample being Mister Brainwash, to name one, who from the get go (with this 1st exhibit he organized himself and to which he invited all of Hollywood ) and introduced as an “artist” just a few months prior, sold his artworks for several hundreds of thousands of euros !

In a nutshell, verify a vendor’s « seriousness” and do a little bit of research on the web to find out if the prices are coherent or not…


But, before all else, I want to give you some personal advice : don’t think « investment ». Buy an artwork because you truly love it (and it happens to fall within your budget)…and following the simple precautions mentioned earlier. Because art is first and foremost an emotional decision that should not be about investing or speculating. An artwork worth a hundred euros may touch you 1000 times more than an artwork 1000 times more expensive.


Buy art that moves YOU. That’s why, at Art Traffik, we select our artists, on the one hand, and we set the prices based on the artist’s art market maturity, on the other. Thereupon, you’ll only need to make the perfect artistic match between you and the artwork that suits you best; without having to worry about whether the price is “right” or about the artist’s potential.

Mister Brainwash

Laetitia Lesaffre : Osmose - 90 x 110 cm 

For the rest, the Art Traffik Team and myself will gladly assist you in making delightful discoveries !


Article published by LJ Art Traffik