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After many years of extensive evaluations, there seem to be a number of factors at play that determine the outcome of the price of a painting when up for sale.

As it turns out, a portrait of an attractive woman, or a pretty child, will always fetch more than one of an elderly woman or an ugly old man. An ‘Orange Marilyn’ by Andy Warhol goes for far more than a ‘Richard Nixon’ of the same size.

Colours are crucial and most definitely a selling factor. The order from most to least in demand: red, white, blue, yellow, green and black. There are exceptions: again, if it concerns an Andy Warhol, green becomes fashionable. Green, after all, is the colour of the buck.

Vivid colours are more favourable than bleak ones. Horizontal paintings are preferred to vertical ones. A nude goes for far more than a demure scene and female nudes outdo the male ones. Overall, there is a greater demand for human figures than for landscapes. A still-life with flowers will fetch more than one with fruit, and roses are worth more than chrysanthemums. Calm waters increase the value of a painting (Claude Monet’s ‘Water Lilies’ for instance) whereas rough waters, such as in maritime art, do not rock the boat that much. Full-scale shipwrecks even less.

The enthusiast prefers pedigree dogs to mongrels and racehorses to draft horses. For paintings depicting fowl: the more expensive it is to hunt a rare bird, the more the painting will fetch. Therefore, a scenery with rare grouse is worth more than one with wild ducks. According to a New York art dealer, there is another more stringent law: paintings depicting cows do not sell at all. Period.

The most expensive painting ever traded is without doubt a late nineteenth century masterpiece. In February 2015, a 300 million US dollar deal between the small, yet energy-rich Gulf state of Qatar and a private Swiss collector was sealed for Paul Gauguin’s ‘When will you marry?’, painted in 1892 during the first of two visits to Tahiti, an idyllic French Polynesian island in the South Pacific. In 2011, Qatar had already acquired Paul Cézanne’s 1894 ‘The Card Players’ for approximately 270 million US dollars, then the most expensive painting and now in second place.  

Remarkably, Qatar, of all places, has been the world’s biggest buyer of modern and contemporary art during the past number of years. It has become a key player on the international art market by amassing a prime collection of art and antiques. Aiming to make this country a world class cultural destination, it even managed to snap up the chairman of the auction house mentioned above to become its chief executive in charge of its acquisitions and new museums.

If you want to, please like, share, forward and / or respond by leaving a comment below.

Jon Eiselin.



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