Nicolò De Vecchi

The Fine Arts Market: The Methodological Limitations of Art Economics Taking a Smithian Approach

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This paper was prompted by the doubts expressed by some of the major exponents of art economics about the possibility of achieving a full understanding of how the fine arts market is structured and the prices of works of art determined with the sole support of the rational choice approach. Turning to Smith's theory on the formation and transformation of taste, the paper shows that, for Smith, "custom and fashion" and, above all, the "skillfulness and science" of the connoisseur play a fundamental role in determining taste, and with it art market behaviours. More in general, analysis "à la" Smith prompts reflection on the complexity of the motivational structure of those who acquire works of art and the reciprocal conditioning generated by those who participate in the art market.

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